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This piece is inspired by a recording of a lovely elderly woman, Maria, singing. I wanted to explore issues of ageism, how we tend to devalue people as they get older in general, as well as specifically around the idea of making music. I use the pitch material in the recording as the basis for the melodic line which is first played by Violin I, later to be harmonized with the cello. This material came to symbolize Maria’s isolation from the busy, rhythmically concise world around her, which in turn was represented in the piece by some very fast-paced rhythmic writing for Vln II and Vla.
The cello, responding sympathetically to the Vln I line, is suggesting that Maria is not unique in her viewpoint. As listeners/observers, though, we always quantify her life by measuring it against the ‘outside world’: therefore the rhythmic drive of the ‘busy’ material always wins our attention, even if it has less lyrical beauty, is rather mechanical and only develops in response to her melody.
Just as Maria interacts with those around her by joining in musically, so the quartet soon concur to play a pseudo-folk tune. This is facilitated primarily by the cello, which leads her mournful, isolated melody into the communal dance. The aleatoric sections represent the idea that reality is only the perspective of the individual. Thus, if we enter Maria’s world, rather than just observing her juxtaposition to those around her, time adheres to her pace. But in the end we are not Maria, and the piece soon slips back to an us-and-her viewpoint.
02 Jul 2008: Performed by String Quartet from Nelson Composers' Workshop