Artist Projects

The Nitrate Hymnal

Bob Massey , David M. Wilson

In The Nitrate Hymnal, David Wilson uses found-film footage and Massey’s original music and libretto to question the way many people obsessively catalog their lives. The film footage is drawn from home movies shot by Massey’s grandparents between 1941 and 1985. The score is a mix of chamber music and “post-punk” underground rock, and the libretto is garnered from phrases found in the couple’s correspondence. The narrative travels backward in time from the characters’ old age, through their experiences raising a family, fighting World War II, and finally reaching a crescendo toward their early courtship as they face the promise of a life not yet lived. The action onstage alternates between the idealized moments captured on film and the stormy reality of the couple’s real lives.

Project Updates

  • 2003: The Nitrate Hymnal is performed at George Washington Masonic National Memorial Auditorium in Alexandria VA

  • Songs from The Nitrate Hymnal are performed at Northsix in Brooklyn

  • 2006: Songs from The Nitrate Hymnal are performed at the Warehouse Theatre in Washington DC as part of the Meet the Composer’s Creative Connections program

  • Artists

    Bob Massey

    To explain his “weird resume,” Bob Massey describes music as his calling and writing as his trade. On the music side, he’s a 2002 Creative Capital gr…


    David M. Wilson

    David M. Wilson has produced and directed three of his own film/video works that have been screened at the New York Underground Film Festival, the Ar…


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