“Until I happened across Ted Hughes’ poem Wind, progress on my 2011 dectet
BLACK ASTRIDE AND BLINDING was painfully slow; everything was up in the air, even the instrumentation (9 players? 10 players? 1 or 2 violas?!). Hughes’ poem, from which my title is borrowed, uses strikingly vigorous language to describe a violent wind which rages for several days. Finding this poem helped kick-start my piece: the visceral sense of strength and power which the poem exudes inspired directly the assertive vigour which drives BLACK ASTRIDE AND BLINDING forwards. While like much of my music the piece journeys through contrasting territories, it is also densely thematic, in two ways. First, while the piece’s basic building blocks are short, vital, often fragmented gestures, there is a continuous struggle to extend these tiny statements into longer lines and phrases. Second, in a kind of ritornello form, all of the piece’s different musics return to be reworked; the opening paragraph perhaps reappears most frequently, each time obsessively transformed and (re)developed. While some of the central episodes are calmer, and the coda – in fact another reworking of the opening – manages to achieve a kind of periodic stability, this cannot last, and the piece is drawn back into its characteristic fury for the close.”
As a finalist in the 2012 ALEA III International Composition Competition, BLACK ASTRIDE will be performed on Sunday October 7 at the Tsai Performance Center, Boston. I probably won’t be there, but let me know if you make it!