earspace Presents "child"

Click on each composer's name for a detailed biography.

South Catalina
Christopher Cerrone

South Catalina draws its inspiration from two sources. First is the amazing work Swarm by the London-based artist collective, rAndom International. The interactive sculpture responds to sound impulses with a blast of asynchronous lights. When seeing the work at the entrance to the Frenkel Art Foundation, I immediately knew I would write a piece of music where sharp and loud attacks in the piano and percussion would inspire a flurry of wild and improvisatory gestures from the rest of the ensemble.

I spent much of the Fall of 2013 living in Los Angeles, preparing for the inaugural production of my opera, Invisible Cities. One of the things that struck me about living in Southern California is the amazing light. Every day, without fail, is amazingly bright, and while this can be initially enchanting for an East Coaster, it can also feel oppressively out of sync with one’s mood. South Catalina draws on both of these sensations with its driving optimism but also its relentless forward movement. The title is drawn from the street in the Koreatown neighborhood of LA where I lived.

- Christopher Cerrone

Kaija Saariaho

One of my first ideas for “Tocar”, about the encounter of two instruments as different as the violin and piano, was the question: how could they touch each other? 
Whilst composing music, I always imagine the instrumentalist’s fingers and their sensitivity. The violin sounds are created by the collaboration between the left hand and the bow controlled by the right hand. On the piano, the pianist should be extremely precise in order to control the moment when the fingers touch the keys, afterwards the sounds can be coloured only by the pedals. In spite of such different mechanisms, both instruments also have some common points, purely musical, noticeably they share some of the same register. 

In “Tocar” both instruments move forward independently, but also keep an eye on each other. I imagine a magnetism becoming stronger and stronger – the piano part becomes more mobile – which draws the violin texture towards the piano writing culminating in an encounter in unison. After this short moment of symbiosis, the violin line is released from the measured piano motion, continuing its own life outside the laws of gravity. 
The title, in Spanish, is translated as “to touch, to play”. 

“Tocar” was commissioned by the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition. The work was premiered by the 20 semi-finalists in Helsinki on the 26th, 27th, and 28th November 2010. 

- Kaija Saariaho

David Lang

child is my attempt to examine certain experiences as I remember (and misremember) them from my childhood. Each of the individual moments is in some way a memory of how I learned how to do something. Because I was taught (as most children are) that one learns how to perceive the world by making up rules, it has been possible to apply these rules to musical environments.

I am not nostalgic for childhood, mine or anyone else's. It is not a point of child to show either how childhood is a time of great excitement of great disturbance, or that I miss it or that I suffered through it. What is most interesting to me, especially now that I have children of my own, is that childhood is the time when one learns how to think, how to feel, how to move forward. Because each piece of music in some way needs to teach its listener its own rules for how it works, it is a comparison I have found meaningful.

I. my very empty mouth (1999)

The phrase ''my very empty mouth'' is part of a sentence I was taught to help remember the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, etc. Now I no longer remember the whole sentence, and the rest of the solar system has been lost.

II. sweet air (1999)

During a trip to the dentist my oldest son Isaac was given laughing gas. The dentist called it sweet air, a gentle name to take the fear out of having a cavity filled. It worked. My son experienced something—a drug—so comforting that it made him ignore all signs of unpleasantness. This seemed somehow musical to me. One of music's traditional roles has always been to soothe the uneasy. I must say I have never been that interested in exploring this role. It is much easier to comfort the listener than to show why the listener might need to be comforted. My piece ''sweet air'' tries to show a little bit of both. In ''sweet air,'' simple, gentle musical fragments float by, leaving a faint haze of dissonance in their wake.

III. short fall (2000)

I wanted to write a piece in which a large amount of effort was expended to go a very small distance. ''short fall'' is that piece. Underneath all the activity in ''short fall'' the actual notes fall only very slightly. It is as if the surface is so active that the subtle effects of gravity pass (almost) unnoticed.

IV. stick figure (2001)

A child learns to draw by drawing lines. In the hands of a child a person is a stick figure, a skeletal intersection of stark lines, stripped of flesh, without subtle details. Only later does a child learn to add things—some hair, a dress, some shoes. Watching my children go through this stage has made me realize that my music is moving in the opposite direction. With every piece a little bit of flesh is removed, a little more skeleton is uncovered.

V. little eye (1999)

Small children get bored easily when traveling long distances by car. One way to distract them is to play the game I spy with my little eye, in which you look out the window and describe something you have noticed. In my experience this does work, not in a very subdued way—it is not the most exciting way to pass the time. Eventually, however, time does pass.

- David Lang

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