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for solo violin, string orchestra, and harpsichord 

"Harlin’s music is the show-stopper...
"The Art of Flight” is a floating, free falling effusion of joy and loss, with a transparent, modern sensibility..."   




THE ART OF FLIGHT: showcases one of our  most primal obsessions, flight.  Written­­­ from a variety of avian and aeronautical perspectives, this 35-minute work alternates between movements that feature solo violin, and movements highlighting an orchestra of soloists, aurally depicting the birds in flight.  It is a companion piece to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which when it premiered in 1725 was considered avant-garde, experimental, and futuristic. 

Duration 35 Minutes

or 15 to 20 minute suites 



I. Emergence

II. Murmuration study no. 1

III. Contrails

IV. Murmuration study no. 2 Freefall

V. Extraordinary Machine

VI.  Murmuration study no. 3 Blur

VII.  Skyward

VIII. Murmuration study no. 4 Primal

IX. Strum

Available Suites

Murmuration Suite: 15 minutes

Movement II, IV, VI, and VIII

Art of Flight (concerto): 20 minutes

Movements I, III, V, VII, and IX

SUITE A: 20 minutes

Movements I, II, III, VII, IX


I.  Emergence is the overture to the Art of Flight. It is also the category of phenomena that a murmuration belongs to.  An emergent phenomenon is a complex structure with unique traits that emerges out of groupings of individuals. This movement starts with a traditional concerto-like role for the soloist and ends with the soloist joining forces with the ensemble. 

II.  Murmuration Study No. 1 is the aural representation of a murmuration.  In this movement each instrument has an individual part and those parts create a larger sound masses, swells, and cascades of scales. 

III.  Contrails start as defined lines in the sky which over time spread and fade away.  This movement uses that idea.  It begins with a dance-like solo violin melody which is then repeated in close canon (where instruments play the same melody slightly delayed).  The melody spreads through the orchestra and eventually fades into nothingness.   

IV. Murmuration Study No. 2 Freefall: spirals weightlessly downward in slow motion.  It uses the full range of the harpsichord, which over the course of the movement moves from the highest to the lowest register­, coming to a rest in the final seconds of the movement.  


V. Extraordinary Machine is in constant motion, full of changing rhythmic patterns and pulses, simulating the unpredictability and almost sentient behaviors of a murmuration.  Mechanical effects such as a machine whirring to life (the beginning), slowing to a full stop (middle) and going out of control (the end) are simulated with the strings.

VI. Murmuration Study No. 3 Blur:  An acoustic blur is created by written rules rather than music notation


VII. Skyward is a continual expansion of space, beginning confined and reaching skyward.   Listen for natural harmonics in the strings at the beginning which merge into a harpsichord solo.

VIII. Murmuration Study No. 4 Primal: eschews traditional tonality and string techniques in favor of glissandi and measured tremolo which (to my ear) simulate the shimmer and morphing shade of a murmuration.  There is ample use of sul ponticello, a string bowing technique which creates an electronic sound.  


IX. Strum utilizes strummed pizzicato in the cellos, double stops in the viola, and the agility of the solo violinist.  It has some subtle and some overt references to the Four Seasons.  Strum ends by merging new and old, the composed musical material of the movement with music from Vivaldi’s Summer.    


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