Varsha was written for the Haydn Seven Last Words project, for Juilliard415. The project commissioned seven composers (including Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, Jessica Meyer, Tania Leon, Caroline Shaw and Colin Jacobsen) to write interludes between each of the Haydn quartets.
This piece, Varsha, serves as an interlude between Sonata V (Sitio – “I Thirst”) and Sonata VI (Consummatum Est – “It is finished”) of Haydn’s Seven Last Words. The combination of Hindustani raags used in this piece are from the Malhaar family, which are sung to beckon rain.
I imagined an interlude between these two sonatas: Christ thirsts. Rain comes from the distance (Megh Malhaar). There is a downpour around him (Miyan ki Malhaar), but he grows slowly weaker. His next words make clear that even the rain is not enough: his thirst is of another sort, which cannot be quenched by water. And so, it is finished.
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This piece was commissioned by Juilliard Historical Performance as part of the Haydn Seven Last Words Project. It was premiered on April 16, 2019 at St. John the Divine Church in New York City. The soloist was Madeleine Bouissou.