Live performance 07/04/14 by Duo Damiana (Molly Barth, flute; Dieter Hennings, guitar)
I wrote this short piece for Duo Damiana for their appearance at the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, where I was also on the administrative team. Not only did they kindly mentor over 90 composers and performers, but they also gave a radiant performance of flute and guitar repertoire. I was one of the symposium participants included on the program.
Commissioned by TimesTwo Duo (Thomas Bergeron and Candy Chiu)
Here I wanted to create a pushing and pulling between the members of the duo. That pushing/pulling takes us from some proto-Berio jams to a more hectic off-kilter groove on drum set and guiro supporting an improv break for the trumpet. The pushing and pulling abates during a final section in which some of the opening materials are recast in a more subdued form. My effort to explain the dramatic arc of the piece in completely non-musical terms goes like this:
The pair enters into an exploratory conversation. Only the subject matter was known in advance; the exploration part was a pleasant development. It’s hard to know how much further to explore. The duo explores far enough. Maybe they’d already said what mattered from the outset. It turns out to be worth saying again. Or maybe it is new this time. In any case, this time it makes a lot of sense. Feels right.
The “hail” of the title can be an image, or it can also be the act of calling or declaiming. Both senses jibe with the soundworld of the piece.
11.19.13 Beall Hall, Eugene, Ore.
[The version on Soundcloud uses a revised ending recorded in 2014 at the Atlantic Music Festival.]
ON THE PIECE
This “sinfonietta,” or small symphony, for sixteen instrumentalists inscribes a musical terrain that is at once angular and incisive, yet also warm and familiar. The concise contrapuntal dialogue that begins the piece gives rise to a driving, motoric passage integrating counterpoint with ostinato. Some later passages continue this integration, while others focus on one technique alone. Following the final hard-driving moment, the piece concludes with a series of sparsely scored but still very incisive passages, the last for contrabass and marimba with sparse wind accompaniment.