I’m happy to announce a performance of a recent piece of
mine. This is a piece for cello and piano, called A te; it’s an
unpredictable and (if I say so myself) rather sly set of variations on "A
class=SpellE>teo cara," a tenor aria
from Bellini’s opera "I Puritani." These
performances are happening on a series called Second Helpings, produced by the
St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. Here’s the data:
April 1, 2 PM: w:st="on">Chelsea
April 2, 2 PM: Dia
class=GramE>:Beacon. This is a museum in Beacon, NY, where the
class=SpellE>DiaFoundation shows its art collection. For directions, go
to their website.
This performance is one of several ways in which I’m slowly
reemerging as a composer. I hope to announce a couple of more events soon
lang=X-NONE style='mso-ansi-language:X-NONE'>. lang=X-NONE style='mso-ansi-language:X-NONE'>—
lang=X-NONE style='mso-ansi-language:X-NONE'>.This piece
lang=X-NONE style='mso-ansi-language:X-NONE'>—originally written for
cellist Adiel Shmit, to
whom I’m grateful —
plays games. As a musician who heard it said after its premiere a few months
ago, "You never know what’s coming next." The Bellini
tune comes at the end, and emerges like a light out of darkness, tying together
everything that came before. Suddenly you realize where the things you’ve been
hearing came from.
The variations run all over the stylistic map. The first one
takes off from Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta
Love." Others are little tributes to bebop (with the cello and piano both
taking solos). Still others are quietly drunken little rhapsodies. There’s also
a nod to minimalism, and, in many places, more dissonance than I usually
class=GramE>write. I’m learning to bring all the non-classical music I
love into classical pieces (odd that it didn’t come naturally to me before,
given how strongly I’ve publicly said that such things should happen). This
piece maybe reflects the feeling I often have about music in our time, that the
variety of it is just staggering, but also (with no disrespect meant to any
musical style) a bit like litter — there’s so much of it around that, apart from following your
nose and just listening to whatever you love, it’s hard to know what to do to
Because the theme comes at the end, I had two problems in
writing the piece. The first was how to start (since usually a set of
variations starts stalwartly with the theme). I decided to use the orchestral
introduction to the aria, just as you hear it in the opera. So the piece
becomes a Bellini sandwich
the beginning and end, me in the middle.
The other problem was how to get to the end
lang=X-NONE style='mso-ansi-language:X-NONE'>—how to brake all the
crazy momentum, how to make a transition from short, gnomic, wildly varied
variations into the peaceful D major of the theme. My answer was to break the
variations into fragments, as if the music slowly collapsed into rubble. And
from that rubble the theme emerges.
That’s a lot of writing about a fairly short piece! Also on
the program is music, by a lovely quirk of fate, written by people I’ve known
for a long time, and really like: Chet Biscardi,
Martha Mooke, and w:st="on">Joan
(who’s the artistic director of the series).
If any readers come to these performances, please come up
and say hello!
Feel free to peruse the
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'> te, and
to a synthesizer version of the music.