Matinee: The Fantom of the Fair

Score title

Matinee: The Fantom of the Fair


Libby Larsen

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Program note

From petroglyphs to graphic novels, people have transmitted their myths and legends through combining visuals with narrative. In our time, we have stained-glass windows, movies, picture books, and comic books. Perhaps comic books, with their exclamatory, punchy dialogue, colorful panels, and illusion of movement, best represent our high-paced, fragmented lifestyle. Plus, they’re fun.

The Fantom of the Fair is an early superhero created by Paul Gustavson in 1939, during the Golden Age of comics. The Fantom’s origins are never fully explained—his identity never revealed—although he is rumored to be a thousand-year-old spirit from Iceland, now living under the New York City fair grounds. In this episode, the Fantom must rescue innocent bystanders stranded in the midst of a “subterranean disaster.”

Toni Lindgren’s animation of the comic book places the listener (that’s you) inside the Fantom’s secret underground adventures. My music animates this animation, providing a sonic narrative for the story. The characters are sung by a male and a female voice, each playing several roles. The violin, cello, and piano create the subterranean disaster, the ivy-covered walls of the university, and the superhuman qualities of the Fantom.

— Grace Edgar