What is the shadow of shadow? … Bright powerful sunlight? Openness…clarity? Classical structure?
This is the question this music asks. When combined with consistent powerful emotion you have the interplay of such polar opposites as inform much of this music.
Mercury’s Shadow – violin duo – was written as I was moving to New York City from Ithaca, New York. It was a big move. I had lived in Ithaca for about fourteen years. I finished my schooling in music composition there with Karel Husa (D.M.A. Cornell) and Steven Stucky and others. It is where I began my next step, as founder/director of CHIRON Performing Arts and presented the work of hundreds of Artists of all disciplines – and it is where I lived and loved and taught many young people music. I had a house with a glorious view of nature, it was peaceful – but I realized that it was time to move on…to continue the adventure – also, I knew my own future family was not to be found there. So I piled my stuff and my cats into a moving truck and trekked to New York City to start a new branch of life.
Mercury’s Shadow is dedicated to that process. As a result, the music has a powerful dynamic forward-moving quality and ends with a ‘country dance’ dedicated to the beautiful countryside of Ithaca and my experiences there. There is also a place where some improvisation is asked for – lending a feeling of freedom to the music.
There is a recording in the side bar music player. It is of then Ithaca College violin professor, Ellen Jewett and one of her students. They did a pretty wonderful job. The work was performed by Monica Bauchwitz and William Hakim on Monica’s series, Concert in the Heights – I do not have that recording to share.
Overview of form:
The piece begins with two introductions. The first is a dialogue of powerful expressive gestural melodies, the second is more rhythmic and brings the music forward. A fanfare-like rhythm heralds the introduction of the main theme. This leads to a phrase climax and then the exposition repeats with a more contrapuntal realization of the theme. This is followed by a full climax of the ‘A’ section. The ‘character theme’ area has some of the most expressive music of Mercury’s Shadow. Music from the introduction returns and ‘dialogues’ with the intensely passionate lyrical music. After this the ‘finale’ ensues which is the ‘country dance’ mentioned earlier. In this there is the option of improvisation – the dance is repeated and the violinists switch parts, thereby offering the other musician the option of improvising. It has been performed without improvisation as well (with the offered written out music) and in this performance they did not choose to switch at the repeat. The piece ends with a short energetic coda.
For much of the piece the violins act together, making one instrument. There is a constant dialogue of musical and expressive elements. The performance should be very high energy all the way through, especially in the quieter moments. Mercury’s Shadow is of approximately 8’ 40” duration.
Note: I was right! I now live with my new family; my wonderful wife Maryclare, who ran disaster relief programs after 9/11, my amazing daughter, Sofia, who just turned 13 – and our animal friends – rescues – Angel (the pup) and Pluto (a beautiful black cat).
Inspired by my work with young people and my daughter, Sofia – in 2016 I started a new branch (while of course keeping up with ‘serious music’). Visit The Phantastic Theater :HERE: – my YouTube channel is :HERE: – the channel is my ‘interface’ with the world and demonstrates quite a range of work.
Through it all, my chamber music is – and will always be – the core of it all.
If curious you may find my recent String Quartet on my YouTube channel :HERE: