Hunger: The Journey of Tamsen Donner

by Tom Baker, composer

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about

A Chamber Opera by Tom Baker

HUNGER tells the tragic tale of the Donner Party through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, the matriarch of that ill-fated group of pioneers. The Donner family and their fellow travelers were determined to make it to the promised land - the California territory. After struggling across the prairie and the desert, losing most of their oxen and cattle, and nearly dying of thirst, they were convinced to modify their route by a hired guide. They reached the Sierra mountains, just miles from their destination, only to be trapped for months by blinding snow and bitter storms. Many perished. Some survived by resorting to cannibalism. They all experienced unimaginable suffering. The music of Tom Baker and the poetry of Ruth Whitman combine to give a moving account of this journey, told through Tamsen Donner’s re-imagined words, thoughts and songs.

credits

released March 21, 2012

Maria Mannisto, soprano
Tom Baker, guitar, harmonium, harmonica
Greg Campbell, drums, french horn, harmonica
Brian Cobb, bass, harmonica
Jesse Canterbury, clarinet, harmonica

Recorded and mixed by Doug Haire for Jack Straw Productions, Seattle WA

Edited by Tom Baker at H7 Studios, Seattle WA
Mastered by Barry Corliss at Master Works CD Mastering, Seattle WA
CD design by Wing Fong
Production Design by Alissa Rupp
Produced by Tom Baker for Present Sounds Recordings PS1103

Recording and production made possible through: Artist Residency Program at Jack Straw Productions 4Culture Individual Artists Projects

Text from pgs. 15, 19-20, 28-29, 37, 43-45, 49, 53, 58-61, 64-65, 67-72, and 75 from Tamsen Donner: A Woman’s Journey. Copyright © 1977 by Ruth Whitman. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Mountain photo by Mike Warren, mountainphotography.com

Special thanks to: Maria Mannisto, Jesse Canterbury, Greg Campbell, Brian Cobb, Alissa Rupp, Beth Graczyk, Reed Nakayama, Greg Carter, Steve Peters, Corrie Befort, Alice James Books, The Portico Group, Seattle EXperimental Opera.

Thanks to the proud and courageous Tamsen Donner, and to Ruth Whitman for creating such beautiful words to tell Tamsen’s story.

And many thanks to my father for first telling me the tale of the Donner Party, with the lesson being: take no cut-offs.

More information at: tombakercomposer.com
℗ 2011 Present Sounds Recordings presentsounds.com

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