The King in Yellow (2012)

Flute (pic.), Bb Clarinet (Bass), Violin, Cello, Percussion, and Piano

Duration: 10 minutes | Composed: 2011 | World Premiere: Adelaide, Australia (Oct. 2012) Winner of the Soundstream Collective National Young Composers Award | Recording: Performed by Jessica Banks (Fl/Pic), Keith Northover (Cl/Bass), Ethan Geller (Perc.), Clare Longendyke and Grigor Khachatryan (Pno.), Bijan Sepanji (Vln), Jae Y. Choi (Vc).

This work is based on three stories from the psychological horror (pre-Lovecraft/Kafka) book by Robert W. Chambers called “The King in Yellow”. The stories all together allude to a fictional play (that is, fictional within the fictional setting) which, when read in its entirety, eventually sends the reader mad (followed by death, disappearance, or change). Below is an excerpt from each story:

I - The Yellow Sign
Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink behind the lake, The shadows lengthen In Carcosa. Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies, But stranger still is Lost Carcosa. Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa. Song of my soul, my voice is dead, Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa.

II - The Mask
CAMILLA: You, sir, should unmask.
CAMILLA: Indeed it’s time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
STRANGER: I wear no mask.
CAMILLA: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask?
-Act 1. Scene 2.

III - Court of the Dragon
The people faded away, the arches, the vaulted roof vanished. I raised my seared eyes to a fathomless glare, and I saw the black stars hanging in the heavens: and the wet winds from the Lake of Hali chilled my face. And now, far away, over leagues of tossing cloud-waves, I saw the moon dripping with spray; and beyond, the towers of Carcosa rose behind the moon.


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