strings + harpsichord – 20 minutes
One of my most exciting projects of 2011 was a collaboration with The Sebastians on something we called the Vivaldi Project. Our goal was to produce a show that seamlessly interwove early and new music. 2011 happened to be the 300th anniversary of Vivaldi’s seminal work L’Estro Armonico, so we decided to create a set around these concerti. For my part I wrote a collection of interludes to go between the Vivaldi. While writing, I focused on a particularly interesting fact of Vivaldi’s career, his tenure as Music director at the famous Ospedale della Pieta, an orphanage for girls that specialized in musical training. Most of Vivaldi’s concerti, and almost certainly all of L’Estro, were written and performed at the Ospedale. I found this scenario irresistible and decided my interludes would be about the Ospedale, in particular the Ospedale at night time. I wanted to imagine the sound and feeling of the Ospedale after everyone was asleep and the day’s music had stopped.
We got a nice grant to support the development and presentation of the project and with the help of said grant we created a swanky blog. Check it out for posts about some of the string techniques I use, detailed thoughts on the concept, and audio of the piece as I wrote it.
At the premiere performance it was thrilling to hear my pieces back-to-back with the Vivaldi. I was unprepared for just how cool it felt to move from the introspective, atmospheric interludes to the brilliant, extroverted Vivaldi pieces. Maybe it was because I knew what was coming, but those few seconds of silence between an interlude and a Vivaldi were thick with tension and wonderful expectation. To give you a small taste of this juxtaposition I’ve posted recordings of a few interludes followed by the first 30 seconds or so of the subsequent Vivaldi concerti. All recordings are from the premiere.
Barcarolle into A minor Concerto
This interlude features the Viola. A Barcarolle is a boat song, but my piece isn’t a song so much as music suggesting the possibility of a song.
Lamento into G Major Concerto
This interlude features cello. The music is spare, plaintive and atmospheric. Perhaps it is one of the girls alone, pleading or in prayer. You’ll hear the cello pizzicato throughout. In the backgruond a slow, sliding violin melody passes over a flickering and fragile drone. A voice of strange noises emerges in dialogue with the cello as the music intensifies.
Notturno into B Minor Concerto
Notturno features Harpsichord and Double Bass. It is late night and a teacher plays quietly somewhere in the Ospedale. We continue to hear the nocturnal noises from the Barcarolle. Voices float in and out of the music, perhaps it is the sound of the harpsichordist humming along as he plays.
To purchase a score and part set please click here
premiered 12.17.11 by Quodlibet, Spring Glen Church, Hamden, CT.