"Rumsfeld goes on the record"

Los Angeles Times
Mar. 14, 2004

Putting a new spin on the idea of politicians doing a song and dance, San Francisco-based composer Bryant Kong has written a set of songs, "The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld," that will be the first release on his label, Stuffed Penguin Music.

The lyrics are direct quotes from the secretary of Defense's Pentagon briefings and other public statements ("As we know, there are known knowns"), arranged in verse by New York Times and Village Voice contributor Hart Seely.

"I thought they were great texts and would make great modern songs," says Kong, 35. "The songs exist in two worlds. The political world thinks they're hilarious. The classical performance world thinks they're good music. We want to have it both ways.

"The slogan of the label is 'Seriously Fun Music.' The effort is to show that humor and contemporary subjects are ways to update classical music and keep it relevant."

Kong, who completed an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA in 2000 [sic], wrote the songs for L.A.-based soprano Elender Wall. She sings them on the new disc along with works by William Bolcom, Jerry Mueller and John Duke. A sampling can be heard on www.stuffedpenguin.com.

The Los Angeles premiere and CD release concert will take place March 28 at 2:30 p.m. at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $12 to $18; for information, call (323) 850-5904.

"We hope to do for music what 'The Simpsons' did to TV," Kong says. "We think classical music can go further than it does."

—Chris Pasles

©2004 Times-Mirror Corporation