Alice In Wonderland

by Daniel Berkman

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Alice In Wonderland is Daniel Berkman's first evening length ballet written for choreographer Robert Dekkers and Contra Costa Ballet and was premiered in 2013 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California.

In contrast to Daniel Berkman's past modern works for dance, "Alice" was his first whirl at a traditional ballet for a ballet company. The focus was more on convention rather than esotericism, literal over figurative. But then again, this is Alice In Wonderland and having already scored three acclaimed works for Post:Ballet's director and choreographer Robert Dekkers, this was bound to be an extraordinary creative effort.

Berkman and Dekker's inspired meetings for coffee about the work fueled the inspiration to take the idea of Alice to another level.
They agreed on an electronic score with a generous smattering of acoustic and virtual instruments and environmental sounds in a texture that is derivative of the classic ballet orchestra...but with a twist.

In addition to a virtual orchestra with strings, winds, brass, percussion, etc., Berkman wanted to highlight each character with an instrument of a unique sort (a la Peter and the Wolf).

Alice - Piano
White Rabbit - Percussion ensemble, ticking clock
Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar - Ondes Martenot
Mad Hatter - Tenor guitar
The Queen - Harpsichord
The Joker - Ukulele

The tonal pallette of Alice is a sort of tip of the hat to some of Berkman's past works for dance. For instance, the orchestral string arranging of virtual instruments was first used in his "Demode" (2004) and the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic use of birds and insect sounds came from "Emotorotary" with Janice Garrett and Dancers (2006).
The Ondes Martenot and it's close voicing with the Mellotron were an homage to Oliver Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony and is used as an additional color in other parts of the ballet for it's erie qualities.
Other unique instruments such as toy piano, organ, theorbo and the Chinese guhzeng are also featured to create an even more wondrous musical experience.

The piano is a tribute to Daniel's father John who was a great pianist and composer of dance music for Broadway Musicals such as Follies, Minnie's Boys, Cabaret, Pippin and others. He was a successful virtuoso pianist who passed earlier this year and would have been "88" at the release of this soundtrack on May 22, 2017.

Berkman's ballet, a concerto for a non existent orchestra, a catalog of unusual instruments, a buffet of bygone musical styles and genres and a refreshing interpretation of a classic twisted tale from the 19th Century, is sure to delight and enlighten those who choose to feast their ears on this adventurous work.

Original Alice In Wonderland Trailer (2013):


released May 22, 2017

Composed and performed by Daniel Berkman
Cover Art by Daniel Berkman
Mastered by Greg Bartheld
Choreography by Robert Dekkers for Contra Costa Ballet
Photography by Natalia Perez
Costumes and Sketches by Marlowe Bassett and Jan Berletti
Dedicated to the memory of John Berkman



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Daniel Berkman San Francisco, California

Daniel Berkman is a Bay Area electronic musician, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, looper and innovator of the Kora (a 21-stringed harp-lute from West Africa) and it's modern counterpart, the Gravikord.
Daniel also has recordings under his electronic music moniker Colfax (also on Bandcamp). Instruments: kora, gravikord, guitar, handsonic, ukelin, synths, cello, uke, viol, keys and more.
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