Resoundings (2013)

Three movements for viola and harp.image012_0007 GenealogyResearchPort

Duration:  ca. 16:00

Commissioned by: Da Camera of Houston, Young Artist Program

Premiere: 05.14.2014 by Whitney Bullock, viola,  Meghan Caulkett, harp, at the Menil Collection, Houston, TX.

Other performances: 02.12.2014 by Anthony Bracewell, viola, Hope Cowan, harp, Rice University, Houston, TX.

Program Notes: 

Resoundings is an exploration of relationships between music, ancestry, and time—or perhaps more specifically, my perception of “musical ancestry” and its journey through time. The title reflects both the sense of “being filled with sound” and the notion of something making a strong impression or great effect. In this piece, I consider the impression/great effect that various types of folk music have had on me—musical styles that have “resonated” with me for one reason or another.

In composing this work, I began to consider why these types of music have spoken to me throughout the years. I know that I have ancestors from Poland, Hungary, Italy, England, and more… but to what extent has the music experienced and lived by my ancestors throughout the centuries been passed onto me in a similar way to traits and genes passed on? How much does my attraction to various folk music styles (especially Eastern European) owe to musical memories “re-sounding”, as it were, within me?

Although I intended to allude to folk music in this piece, I made a point to not look to any source other than intuition and whatever musical ideas might surface from my subconscious musical lexicon—from among all musical styles, folk and non-folk, as well as music I’ve heard externally and internally throughout my life. The resulting three movements are called “echoes”: the first one echoing from the past, the second echoing the ongoing migration of these musical experiences through time, and the third one echoing from the future/eternity back into the present.

I. Yesteryears: Harkening back – features a mysterious melody introduced by the viola and subsequently echoes between the viola and harp. The correlation between distance and the time it takes sound to travel is acknowledged here, mainly to illustrate that in the grand scheme of things, 100, 1000, 10,000 years are not that long ago.

II. Chrono-migration: Trans-generational Caravan – the music in this second echo is reminiscent of walking music, as in a steady slow caravan or moderately slow dance. This depicts the seemingly slow passage of time and towards the end everything dissolves into a harp figure from the first echo “Yesteryears”, the past.

III. Destination: Some Eternal Tomorrow – this third echo portrays the sudden (perhaps even unexpected) entry into eternity in some tomorrow. It is as if everything has been shifted into full throttle with passing farewells to the theme of the first echo amidst mysterious precursors to the arrival to the final destination…

Watch each movement, performed by Anthony Bracewell and Hope Cowan: