THE ART OF FLIGHT
for solo violin, string orchestra, and harpsichord
THE ART OF FLIGHT: showcases one of our most primal obsessions, flight. Written from a variety of avian 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.
Orchestra of the Americas
May 30th, 2020...
Panama City, Panama
Duration 35 Minutes
II. Murmuration study no. 1
IV. Murmuration study no. 2 Freefall
V. Extraordinary Machine
VI. Murmuration study no. 3 Blur
VIII. Murmuration study no. 4 Primal
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.