for voice, (bass) flute, (bass) clarinet, violin, viola, ‘cello, double bass
Premiere: Eco Ensemble, May 2014 (8.5 minutes)
For optimal sound quality, please listen with headphones and not computer speakers.
The generating impulse of Push is the breath or pneuma, what Aristotle termed the “vital heat,” and that which in Stoic philosophy was the mixture of the elements of air (in motion) and fire (or warmth). Within this context, it is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the cosmos. Push was written from a place of desperation, of anxiety, and of fear; however, my aim was always to write something else entirely, something that I was afraid would have been too sentimental–a love song. Thus, the piece exists where ecstasy and uncertainty meet; the warmth and motion of one’s pneuma can meet another’s and conjoined in sonic energy, they would propel the music forward.
Push (2) is an expansion of the initial piece, substituting the strings for the original’s accordion. The text was also expanded, including parts of the original text that I had written but was omitted for one reason or another. In many ways, the substitution of strings increased the timbral, formal, and perhaps expressive palettes of the piece; on the other hand, the accordion’s function as lungs is sorely missed. Finally, though the proportions of Push were adjusted for Push (2), I wanted the scale and duration of the piece to be streamlined and concise. I wished the piece to maintain its many moods — anxious, excited, fearful, still, frenetic, impulsive, compulsive — and yet have them cascade upon each other as they often do when we live our lives. Many thanks to Ann Moss for her preparation for the vocal part, David Milnes for his support, and the Eco Ensemble for their musical tenacity and enthusiasm.
a Boom tells me you’re near,
the nerves smolder beneath my skin and an aching throb pulses behind my ribcage.
close. Then closer. we make
only warmth between our mouths, we taste
[If I hold my breath, I can feel heaven. When I close
my eyes, I see God.]
and I inhale:::a
through my vein::
then you exhale:
breathe a kiss into my lungs.