The New York Times: "A Composer Who’s Losing His Memory, Hopelessly at Sea" (Excerpt) by Ben Brantley

That big, helpless guy, who shares the stage with a looming piano, wears his memory around his neck. His name is Nathan, and he is portrayed by his creator, Rinde Eckert, in Culture Project’s revival of “And God Created Great Whales.” It seems that what Nathan once recalled at will is now contained in a cassette tape recorder, attached to a thick rope, the kind you associate with gallows.

In this case, though, that rope — worn like a necklace — is a lifeline and, possibly, a line to eternity. Nathan may be a piano tuner by trade, but he is a composer by vocation. And though his ability to recollect anything, even his name, is pretty much shot, some ember of ambition lets him hope that his recorded voice will tell him how to finish his chef-d’oeuvre. That’s an operatic adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” When Nathan could still think clearly, he didn’t think small.

Nor, it might be said, does Mr. Eckert, an artist who travels regularly into the upper strata of myth, philosophy, classical music and world literature in works with grand titles like “Orpheus X,” “Highway Ulysses” and “An Idiot Divine.” If he wears his brow high, his heart is ingratiatingly modest. For Mr. Eckert we’re all clumsy little ships in a big, devouring sea, as doomed as the poor old Pequod from “Moby-Dick.”...

Published February 15, 2012

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