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Chapter One
For String Quartet

12 minutes

In Five Movements:
I. Thriller 
II. Dr. Seuss 
III. Love Story

IV. Pirates! Duration
V. Magical Realism


Commissioned by The Jasper Quartet. Premiered in February, 2021.

Program Notes:


"Every beginning comes from some other beginning's end"   Seneca

2020 was a year flled with loss, tragedy, loneliness, anxiety and fear for many. For me, it was a year that will be remembered as a challenging time, but also one in which we welcomed our daughter Sienna to our lives. She has been a beacon of light in a year of darkness and while it has been a challenge to raise two little ones in such a year, it is hard to imagine getting through this time without Sienna and our son Leo.

It is in this spirit of new beginnings in the midst of darkness that this piece came to life. Chapter One is a piece about restarts and finding your way to a destination after many tries. Each of the short movements in the piece are new beginnings. The idea for a piece made up of beginnings came to me through reading I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine, a novel written entirely out of frst chapters. There is a certain energy to beginnings that to me was attractive and worth exploring.

In effect, each section could lead to a complete piece. Yet all of the movements are tied together through a common melody that is arrived at after each start. It is as though these movements are all different jokes, with different set-ups, but yet they arrive at the same punch line.The idea of having a common melody running through each section was intended to add coherence and a sense of forward movement in the music.

The movements are titled after literary genres/styles. Each intended to have its own tropes and unique style. Each of the movements ends abruptly, more or less at the point where the listener would expect the next section. The final section, titled Magical Realism is the longest movement and it has a stronger sense of finality. It consists of a gently rocking ostinato pattern that is interrupted by magical moments and allusions to folk music. These interruptions are akin to Gabriel García Márquez’s descriptions of wondrous moments in the middle of the mundane, everyday happenings in his narratives as well as his affinity for vallenato, a style of Colombian folk music that he helped shape and popularize.

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