Current Press Release

***For Immediate Release***

Rumsfeld's“Poetic” Language Makes Sweet Music on New CD

Breakout CD, “The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld,” Launches Independent Classical Music Label and Receives International Attention for “Artful” Musical Humor in an Election Year

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., August 2004 – U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is well-known for his distinctive way with words. Now, Rumsfeld's inimitable language and cadence are proving to be the stuff that poetry and classical music are made of.

San Francisco-based composer Bryant Kong is capturing national and international attention and media coverage for transforming quotations from the Secretary's Pentagon briefings into entertaining classical songs, “The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld,” performed on a new CD by soprano Elender Wall with Kong on piano. Texts for the songs were previously arranged into poems by columnist Hart Seely, published in his popular book, “Pieces of Intelligence,” in the second half of 2003.


“My goal is to update classical music and make it more accessible to a broader audience,” said composer Kong.  “Art needs to address the themes of the day to remain vibrant and relevant. Andy Warhol painted Campbell's soup cans, which he saw as notable cultural icons of his time. Similarly, I find that Rumsfeld's words encapsulate important issues we are dealing with today: the war in Iraq, control of information and access to it, and the Bush administration's efforts to sell policy objectives through public relations.”


Describing the new work, Kong said, “If you think of Rumsfeld as a character in a ‘Gulf Wars II' musical, these are the songs he might sing. The seven songs show the Secretary not only holding forth from his press podium, but in introspective moments as well. These opposing moods are the natural results of the situation in which Rumsfeld finds himself. He is trying to sell a story that can't be sold.”


Songs are based on direct Rumsfeld quotations. The words to “The Unknown” are now classic — "As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns..."  “Happenings” includes words now spoken by Rumsfeld in the film, “Fahrenheit 9/11” — “You get told things every day that don't happen...”  “The Situation” notes that "There will be some things that people will see. There will be some things that people won't see. And life goes on."


The CD, “The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and Other Fresh American Art Songs,” is the debut release of Kong's independent classical music label, Stuffed Penguin Music, as well as the debut recording of classically trained artists Kong and Wall.


The two artists have kicked off their “Weapons of Mass Distraction” concert tour with performances in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. A notable feature of this tour is its variety of venues — not only traditional classical music halls, but also bookstores and political fundraisers such as a recent “House Party for John Kerry.” Upcoming events include performances at “86 Bush,” a San Francisco fundraiser for MoveOn.org in September, and the Berkeley Arts Festival in October.


Kong and Wall are interesting hybrids of classical musicians and entrepreneurs. In addition to being a composer, pianist and humorist, Kong holds an MBA from UCLA's prestigious Anderson School of Management. Wall, well-versed in both standard and non-standard vocal repertoire, has also written a physics textbook.


“With the launch of this CD, we also seek to update the industry model for classical music,” said Kong.   “We are borrowing from the model for independent popular music. It's highly unusual for classical artists to record an album as a means of trying to ‘break out' and build a career. The typical classical route entails spending years trying to please competition judges and other industry gatekeepers to ‘win' the opportunity to have a performing career.”


San Francisco-based Stuffed Penguin Music launched and released “The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and Other Fresh American Art Songs” in Spring 2004. Professionally produced and recorded at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the CD can be purchased directly from the Stuffed Penguin label at www.stuffedpenguin.com. The company is currently working to expand distribution for the CD.

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Editor's Note: The CD itself, as well as JPEG photography of the artists and the CD art (with humorous illustration of Rumsfeld singing/speaking and accompanying himself on piano), can be obtained upon request. Press materials (available in hard copy form by request and at the website) include song lyrics, backgrounders, bios and performing schedules.


Stuffed Penguin Music
PO Box 225205
San Francisco, CA 94122-5205

Tel. (415) 665-2996
Fax. (415) 665-2996


For more information, contact:

Nina Forman/Big Picture, Inc.
(310) 471-1996

Bryant Kong, President
(415) 665-2996