Celestial Dances (2012) 8'
For string quartet.
Premiered at the Charles E. Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music through the Bowdoin International Music Festival, 7/29/12. Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).
Celestial Dances attempts to examine, however obliquely, a physical process: the mysterious quantum mechanics of vacuum energy, whereby particles can pop in and out of existence without any apparent cause. At the outset of the work the viola sparkles softly, flickering faintly out from the silent background; then, a sudden, wild burst!—fragile and otherworldly sound rises upward, unleashing a dramatic and energetic impulse that surges ahead despite several false starts. Slowly, gradually, this delicate music begins to grow firmer foundations, consistently flowing forward across a kaleidoscopic diversity of textures. As the energy of the opening continues to churn, we hear the quartet explore a new and diverse universe for itself, moving through musical material that is sometimes referential, sometimes radical. The players search, build, and struggle, trying always to fashion meaning from the initial creative spark of the work. They finally find, together, a lyrical and triumphant place, singing forth loudly and without restraint—but as the music fades back into churning quietude, we are left again only with silence, memory, and a question... how, ultimately, can we make sense of this transience?