Circling the Waves
I'm currently working on a set of violin solo miniatures for a collaborative project with violinist/artist Michi Theurer.
In her words about the project:
“. . . to make one thing, not enduring—for what endures?—but seen by many eyes simultaneously.”
At the center of a performance is the shared experience of a work of art-- one thing, seen and understood from the many different angles of its audience, and gaining from that multiplicity of viewpoints a power that can surpass that of an object enduring but unshared. Circling The Waves, a commission for solo violin that interweaves music by six composers based on a series of five new paintings, incorporates that shared experience into the fabric of its composition. Following the structure of Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves, it consists of a mosaic of different musical voices speaking independently in response to a common structure.
In Woolf's novel, this shared structure is the course of life from childhood to death, symbolized by a series of interludes describing the rising and setting of the sun. Around these interludes, Woolf creates a subconscious dialogue between six friends, whose contrasting voices and perspectives reveal powerful commonalities in this grand arc. While they don’t speak or respond directly to one another, their voices resonate with one another through echoes of their common space.
In Circling The Waves, the shared structure is provided by a series of five paintings that I created to portray a trajectory from open possibility through crystallization into form and back toward a dissolution of boundaries. The commissioned music forms an aural mosaic around the arc of this shared visual space. Each composer responds independently to the images, and the result is interwoven into a musical dialogue based on the common ground of the paintings.
I met the six composers—Phillip Sink, Melody Eötvös, Katherine Balch, Phil Taylor, Sunbin Kim, and Michael Small—while serving as the violinist for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble in 2015. I was struck both by the distinctness of each of their compositional voices and the immense creative and intellectual passion that they shared. Circling The Waves continues the wide-ranging conversations I enjoyed with them on the subjects of art, music, life, and literature, creating a musical space that brings us into direct conversation with audiences through the shared experience of performance.