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Give Me a Laundry List (and I'll set it to music)

A lighthearted spin on Rossini's famous boast
Commissioned by Farmington H.S. Friends of Music / Scott Campbell
Commissioned for SSAA by Orange County Women's Chorus / Eliza Rubenstein
Giaocchino Rossini / Elizabeth Alexander

The inspiration for this lighthearted romp is a boast made by prolific composer Giaocchino Rossini: “Give me a laundry list and I'll set it to music.”  This tip of the hat to Rossini includes an over-the-top laundry list, some “hold onto your hat” modulations, a few sly barbershop voicings, and a classic “Rossini crescendo”!

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Boast by Giaocchino Rossini
Laundry List by Elizabeth Alexander

Give me a laundry list and I'll set it to music.

A shirt, a skirt, a girdle and a turtleneck,
A frock, a smock, a bonnet and a cotton sock,
A tartan, a parka, a cardigan, a caftan, and a cap,
Knickers and trousers, sweaters and jumpers,
Diapers and boxers and bloomers,
A pajama, a pashmina, balaclava, bandana, bikini,
A dashiki, a dupatta, a kimono, muumuu, tutu –
A cap and a sock and a shirt and a smock,
And diapers and diapers and diapers,
Diapers divisi doloroso!

Composer's Note: 

Unlike most of us mortal composers who can easily labor over a single measure for hours, Giaocchino Rossini was famous for composing with confidence and speed. Legend has it that some of his overtures were composed the night before they were premiered.

Creating a musical setting of Rossini’s clever (if arrogant) boast was a delightful and irresistible challenge for me. Along the way, I threw in my own “laundry list” of not only lyrics but also music, for after the introduction’s classical counterpoint the song abandons all pretense of stylistic consistency. As an additional homage to the compositional shortcuts of prolific composers, my “laundry canon” builds up using a gradual additive technique that musicologists call a “Rossini crescendo.”


Farmington High School Choir - Scott Campbell, conductor (Farminton, CT)   * Premiere


Chicago A Cappella - Jonathan Miller, artistic director (Naperville, IL)

Harmonium Choral Society - Anne Matlack, conductor (Madison, NJ)

Hill Country Singers - Glen Beeler, conductor (Round Rock, TX)

Octarium (Lawrence, KS)

South Bend Chamber Singers - Nancy Menk, conductor ~ Saint Mary's College (Notre Dame, IN)










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