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Passed (2017) 37'

monologue-song cycle

scored for: baritone, piano

text: Tony Asaro

Commission / Premiere:

commissioned by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as the inaugural Kristin Pankonin Art Song Award

premiered by the composer (bass), Kevin Korth (piano)

Sol Joseph Concert Hall, SFCM; San Francisco CA; 05/09/2017

Watch / Listen:

About the work:

This work is the product of a commission from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for their inaugural Pankonin Art Song Award. Kristin Pankonin, a beloved coach and collaborative pianist at SFCM and in the larger Bay Area community, passed away in 2014. This piece is dedicated to her memory, and to the legacy of music and friendship she has passed on to us.


The title, Passed, refers first to the form of the piece. It is based on the structure of Arthur Schnitzler’s play, La Ronde, which begins with two characters sharing a scene. In each following two-character scene, one of the characters from the previous scene interacts with a new character, and so on. This makes for a sort of baton pass between the denizens of the play, eventually drawing the audience back to the very first character. In this case, we begin and end our round-dance with a man named Joe.


The title also bears significance because of its homonymic tie to the word “past.” When brainstorming ideas for the work, a recurring theme Tony and I kept striking upon was one of loss—more specifically, wanting something back that had been lost. Each one of the characters in our circle has lost something important to them, and desperately wants that thing back. Indeed, some of these folks feel that something essential in life has passed them by, stranding them in the past. It’s a  multifaceted theme to tackle, and what started as a commission for a song cycle has blossomed into a piece that shares a border with music-theater.

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