Andrew Norman has provided the following program note to accompany Gran Turismo:
“Right around the time I began sketching a motoric, virtuoso piece for violin ensemble, I discovered Futurist art for the first time. And right around the time I discovered Futurist art, I encountered—in a brief but blazing way—an addictive car racing video game that bears the name Gran Turismo. Soon I realized I was experiencing one of those serendipitous moments when the disparate facets of my life fall into an unexpected resonance with one another. The musical ideas, the art, and the video game all shared things in common-most obvious among them the subject matter of really fast cars. They also shared a certain flamboyant machismo that I associate strongly with the Italian peninsula (it is the Italians, after all, who produced Vivaldi, Marinetti, and Ferrari). There were other striking parallels as well; the “force lines” that rigorously divided space and created a dramatic sense of visual rhythm in much Futurist art—notably present in Giacomo Balla’s 1913 and 1914 paintings of speeding cars found on this and the previous page—resembled the jerky sequences of imagery in the video game, which in turn became a metaphor for the cut-and-splice method of juxtaposition that permeates the violin piece. In addition, the reiteration of fragmentary motives in the art recalled the repetitive visual vocabulary of the racing game as well as the obsessive motivic hammering of the violin music. The limited color pallet of the Balla paintings seemed fitting to describe a piece scored for a pack of like instruments, and the competition between leader and followers at the core of the video game had many parallels in the Baroque model of soloist versus ensemble that is a prominent modus operandi in the piece.
“I let these intriguing resonances rev up for a time in my head, and when I finally set my pencil to the start line the piece took off. Much like the music itself, the process was fast and furious and full of stop-on-a-dime changes. It was a creative joyride to work on a piece that, from the opening gesture to the final bar, is headed along only one emphatic trajectory: HIGHER! LOUDER! FASTER!”
Photo by Acadia Mezzofanti.