From down here

Duration: 15'

Instrumentation: solo cello

Program Notes:

I’m often fascinated with works of art that focus intently on singular ideas, like the abstract expressionist paintings of artists such as Rothko and Pollock, or the piano etudes of composers like Chopin and Ligeti. There’s something so mesmerizing about seeing a rather transparent idea unfold into something that transcends its initial simplicity; the way a few drips and splatters of paint converge to form a torrent of chaotic energy, or the stretching of a simple melodic line into something that feels undeniably eternal. One of the aspects that interests me the most about this transformation is the role that perspective plays in affecting one’s interpretation of a work. A painting that may seem overly simplistic from afar can reveal a startling amount of detail when one moves closer and observes the delicate interactions of the colors and the texture of the brush strokes upon the canvas. A piece of music which, at first glance, appears to be an endless cycle of repetitions can gradually and subtly evolve into a narrative that transports the listener far from the work’s outset.

“From Down Here” is comprised of three short character studies, each of which is an exploration and development of a small set of musical ideas: a chord progression shifting slowly over a constant rhythmic background in the first movement, an undulating melodic line that gives way to wide leaping intervals in the second, and an aggressive series of rhythmic variations in the third. As each movement unfolds, these ideas are examined, reconfigured, and at times even combined to create a variety of musical perspectives.

Concert Premiere: April 5th, 2016, by James Burch, Recital Studio, Austin, TX.

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