A rehearsal reading by the JACK Quartet of a draft of a section of Testify (part III of Passage) exploring the high register of the quartet along with various timbral and dynamic envelopes.
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JACK Quartet reading a high section of Testify
Testify High Section Draft, p. 1
A draft of a section of Testify (part III of Passage) exploring the high register of the quartet along with various timbral and dynamic envelopes.
Testify high section draft, p. 2
The continuation of a section of Testify (part III of Passage) exploring the high register of the quartet along with various timbral and dynamic envelopes.
JACK Quartet reading the opening section
The fearless JACK Quartet attacks the opening section of the piece.
P. 15 of the score
Nearing the culmination of the opening section, tremolo bowing is overtaking the texture.
P. 9 of the score
This is the moment when the opening process of registral expansion and attack-point compression are suddenly retarded, coinciding with a dramatic reduction in amplitude.
Page 1 of score
Here’s the opening few measures of the piece.
“Passage,” a three-part composition for string quartet with interactive lighting, takes as its inspiration those who have survived trauma and oppression, turning horrific experience into positive vehicles for understanding and healing through word and action. The work locates its public in a provocative space where it might consider the implications of the subject matter the work confronts. As the United States is experiencing perhaps the most caustic and polarized era since the Vietnam War, this piece is a deeply personal artistic statement as well as a political and social one. It is intended to address the feelings of helplessness and anger that afflict myself and the nation, providing a reflection on suffering and a pathway toward empathy and reconciliation.
In “Passage,” the musicians of the quartet are placed in the center of the performance space, with members of the audience closely surrounding them at eye level, in complete darkness. This immersive, highly intimate staging negates the barrier between audience and musicians, and shifts the experience from performance to be passively viewed to active, shared involvement.
Part I of “Passage,” titled “Subject,” addresses captivity and subjugation. Derived from information provided by prisoner testimony and the declassified KUBARK manual, the music and lighting in “Subject” evoke techniques used in “enhanced interrogation” to induce regression in detainees. Part II, “Ascension,” invokes recovery by translating PTSD treatments including cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization into musical processes.
“Testify,” part III, will begin with an insistent, defiant pitch that is repeated, reinforced, and challenged by accompanying gestures and unpitched sounds. Together, they will gradually yield a complex web of intricately interrelated musical networks that are contrapuntally explored and exhausted. These dense concatenations of nonsynchronic events, which disorient through thwarted trajectories and subverted expectations, will eventually coalesce into unified harmonies, concluding with a slow-motion microtonal chorale. This process is paralleled by lighting that will begin by focusing on the first violinist of the quartet and then expands outwards, simultaneously with the music. As the lighting illuminates other members of the quartet, the color shifts imperceptibly from clear, white light to different hues, each representing a different emotional stage in the transformation of the piece, informed by theories of color psychology in art therapy. By the conclusion, the entire audience is enveloped in pale, violet light, bringing together all members of the event in a single, sustained moment.
“Subject” is part I of “Passage.” This live performance by NMUSA project collaborators the JACK Quartet, for whom the work was written, demonstrates a version of the interactive lighting that will be expanded and elaborated in the final version of the triptych. Derived from information provided by prisoner testimony and the declassified KUBARK manual, the music and lighting in “Subject” evoke techniques used in “enhanced interrogation” to induce regression in detainees.
“16” for flute and string trio takes its title from the sixteen words that should have been excised from George W. Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Performance by Claire Chase and ICE.
Start and End Dates
04/01/2017 — 12/31/2018
New York, New York