You Are Free



In 2015, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, in a project called "Music In Their Words," commissioned nine composers, including me, to create works that utilized the speaking voice of a significant 20th-century composer, one who'd had a strong impact on their own work. I chose Arvo Pärt; when I first encountered contemporary music, he was one of the living composers whose music genuinely moved me. I had read a description of Pärt's music as "both infinite calm and a house on fire," which struck me as poignantly apt. The field recording of Pärt's voice comes from a delightfully earnest video interview he did with Icelandic experimental pop star Björk in the late '90s. As I listened to their conversation about the ways music in which music affects a listener, I heard a simple F major triad undulating in marimba, piano, and clarinet. From there, I tried to let the piece unfold relatively free of agenda or judgment, something I don't often do. The first performance direction is "somewhere between plaintive, tender, and anxious."

The piece can be performed with or without the field recording.

May 10, 2016

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

"[You Are Free' is] mournful and yearning...darkly ravishing."

Brian Schuth