Note: This set is designed specifically for young musicians.
Sometimes inspiration comes from going back to the basics.
When I was 24 years old, and already had an undergrad degree from Juilliard in composing, I decided I would learn the violin. I was teaching theory and ear training at Manhattan School of Music Precollege at the time, and decided to study violin with the same teacher as some of my own, elementary school- aged students. I started from the basics: G major scales, Suzuki books, and worked my way up to playing a movement of a Mozart concerto over two years.
Because I was already a composer, I wrote for myself as I learned to play. I wrote pieces that I would find engaging, and that my technique could handle. The last two pieces, “…in a network of lines that enlace…” and “…without fear of wind or vertigo…” are from that time. The first piece, “…what story down there awaits its end?” comes from much more recently, and is an arrangement of a melody from the sixth movement my oratorio, This Love Between Us.
The titles of these pieces are inspired by one of my favorite books, Italo Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a traveler. Each of the eleven chapter titles (of which these are three), is a story within itself. But when put together, they create a beautiful long sentence with a new meaning. I hope that over the course of my career, I find music for all of these eleven unlikely stories, and we can connect the dots together.
Also, check out this lovely recording of Claire Allen’s studio playing “…what story” as an ensemble.
This set was commissioned by Cora Cooper