Testy PonyÂ is a setting of the poem of the same name byÂ Zachary Schomburg. I read the poem shortly before the first concert of myÂ River ProjectÂ and felt it embodied something about my trip down the Mississippi River.
Here is the text of the poem:
I am given a pony for my birthday, but it is the wrong kind of pony. It is the kind of pony that won’t listen. It is testy. When I ask it to go left, it goes right. When I ask it to run, it sleeps on its side in the tall grass. So when I ask it to jump us over the river into the field I have never before been, I have every reason to believe it will fail, that we will be swept down the river to our deaths. It is a fate for which I am prepared. The blame of our death will rest with the testy pony, and with that, I will be remembered with reverence, and the pony will be remembered with great anger. But with me on its back, the testy pony rears and approaches the river with unfettered bravery. Its leap is glorious. It clears the river with ease, not even getting its pony hooves wet. And then there we are on the other side of the river, the sun going down, the pony circling, looking for something to eat in the dirt. Real trust is to do so in the face of clear doubt, and to trust is to love. This is my failure, and for that I cannot be forgiven.
Testy PonyÂ is part of my ongoing projectÂ A Book of Days. You can go toÂ October 12thÂ to hear Hamilton Cheifetz’s recording of the piece. The recording is also available onÂ Songs from the River Project Volume 2.
Matt PettyÂ has made a video to accompany his performance of Testy Pony on trombone. You can hear and see his versionÂ here. If you are interested in projecting Matt’s video alongside your performance of the piece, please let me know.
Here is a score of the piece. When you click on the donation button below, I will supply you with all the necessary performance materials. It’s set so you can pay as you like for the duration of the pandemic.
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