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Conversations (2017)

This work was written for Jocelyn Zhu and Mariella Haubs in commemoration of their Concerts for Compassion Tour, Summer 2017. They premiered the work at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, New York, NY, on April 3, 2019. It was subsequently performed on WQXR’s (NYC) Young Artist Showcase, which can be heard here.

Scoring: two solo violins.

Notes:

This piece depicts a conversation between two people: they meet, argue, come to an agreement, and then part. These four events are split across two movements.

In the first movement, we begin with their greetings. Each violinist trades the main theme, and they then develop it and chase it into new variations and ideas, reaching an exciting climax which restates the very beginning music. However, conflict immediate follows: a bickering scherzo in which the two cannot agree on what the harmony or rhythm should be. At times the argument is bitter and coarse, and at others more light-hearted and playful. In the end, though, they remain in total disagreement.

After this heated conflict, the second movement begins with the two violinists pouring out their anguish in loud dissonances. After calming down, each tells a variation on a sad story: a long, lonely theme accompanied by constant pizzacato. A chorale briefly appears: they reconcile their sadness and pray together.

Once reconciled, they engage in a break-neck fugue of “civilized discourse”. They work out their argument in a disciplined, diplomatic fashion, finally reaching an agreement. They join together in celebration, playing the harmonies that began the first movement and staying in unison rhythm for nearly the rest of the piece.

Finally, as in all conversations, the two must part ways. It is lonely and bittersweet, and we are are left wondering why.

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