This Pick of the Week brings you the first three performances of The Boccaccio Project. Concerts from the Library of Congress developed The Boccaccio Project to provide some artistic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten composers were commissioned to write brief solo works, with the remotely recorded pieces to be premiered online this month. We hope you enjoy it!
Composer Damien Sneed collaborated with pianist Jeremy Jordan to write a new work for solo piano, entitled Sequestered Thoughts.
About the project: Sequestered Thoughts was inspired by spending many days alone in solitude during the COVID-19 pandemic of Spring 2020. It opens with a virtuosic fluttering in the right hand juxtaposed against a strong and determined left-hand motif speaking to the many meandering thoughts that come to one when they find themselves devoid of human interaction and fellowship. Then a motif comes out of the left hand representing the inquisitive longing for things to shift to a new normal while the right-hand plays octaves mirroring the monotony of days running together and weeks running into months. Then with the feeling of inward searching of the soul, a chromatic scale cascades downward into a strong-willed determination to survive in resilient hope for the future upward into keys effervescently peering upward in expectation. ~ Damien Sneed
'Sequestered Thoughts' was the most wonderful piece of music to study and record. Mr. Sneed displayed a good deal of harmonic and thematic ingenuity and managed to craft all of it into a work that expertly captures the spirit of this project. The circumstances under which this project was created make it that much more remarkable, and it served as a creative inspiration for my own continued artistic endeavors. ~ Jeremy Jordan
Composer Richard Drehoff Jr. collaborated with oboist Andrew Nogal of the Grossman Ensemble to write a new work for solo oboe, entitled shadow of a difference / falling.
About the work: Composer Richard Drehoff Jr. was paired with oboist Andrew Nogal of the Grossman Ensemble to write a new work for solo oboe entitled "shadow of a difference / falling."
From the Composer: "shadow of a difference / falling" is a series of moments based around the idea of the proverbial bird beating its wings against its newfound cage in trepidation. Each impulse provides insight into its fragile disposition, venturing from moments of cautious curiosity, through forlorn wails and futile exertions, to a melancholy resignation of its confinement. The work exposes the bird's vulnerability by exploring blurred inflections of pitch, unsteady and ever-wavering sweeps across registers, and sharp juxtapositions between timid and rash gestures. --Richard Drehoff Jr.
Composer Miya Masaoka collaborated with cellist Kathryn Bates of the Del Sol Quartet to write a new work for solo cello, entitled Intuit (a way to stay in this world).
About the work: This piece begins to push at the liminality of microtonal ways of playing within underlying tonal centers. How to balance dynamic range and tone color/timbre within a contemporary practice? What is sacrificed, what is gained in such a scenario? In this piece, there are limited modalities for the performer to control and negotiate the suggested and indicated delicate balance of these parameters in the score.
Just as this musical balance is negotiated, so is the balance of our lives in lockdown. This piece is a positive and optimistic hope for a way to be present in the outside world of lockdown, and a wish to find a healthy balance between our own interiority and the outside world, which, under such extraordinary circumstances, we seek relief. ~ Miya Masaoka