Winter Rings

Year of composition: 2017
Instrumentation: violin, piano
Duration: 13’00

Commissioned by the 21C Festival and the Royal Conservatory/
Koerner Hall

Premiere: Claudia Chan, piano, and Benjamin Bowman, violin
Mazzoleni Hall, The Royal Conservatory, Toronto
May 28, 2017

Score excerpt


PROGRAMME NOTES

Inspired in part by the “dual personage” evoked by Xenakis in his 1979 violin/piano composition Dikhthas, this work explores various forces that work against one another. It is also a meditation on the year’s cold months, throughout which certain confrontations seem to become more profound. Winter Rings seeks to express the season’s unique ability to resound and encircle us, animating our sense of the near vs. the distant and amplifying the separation between interior warmth and the austere world of the exterior.

The piece is assembled by way of pitch constellations that are in constant rotation by major and minor thirds. By virtue of equal temperament, this perpetual motion through harmonic space occurs concurrently in opposing directions across different time scales, yielding an almost hypnotic tension between forward energy and stasis. Triads loom, but only rarely flicker into sight. Against the piano’s all-encompassing chromatic universe the violin comes to embody the world of limitations, playing mediator between the effable and the ineffable.

Winter Rings is dedicated to the artists of the premiere performance, Claudia Chan and Benjamin Bowman, whose support and energy for the project have been unwavering throughout its long period of gestation.


ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES

Leah Asher, violin, and Christopher Goddard, piano
Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, La Sala Rossa, Montreal
Aug. 6, 2017

Leah Asher, violin, and Christopher Goddard, piano
CODES D’ACCÈS, La Sala Rossa, Montreal
Oct. 2017

composer/pianist