Becoming Unknownflute/bass flute, clarinet in a/bass clarinet, trumpet, double bass (2009)
|Commission||Fromm Foundation for Music and the Harvard Department of Music|
|Premiere||December 3, 2009; Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; International Contemporary Ensemble|
At the opening of Becoming Unknown we hear two types of dissonance that will haunt the piece. The double bassist plays a soft unison that is slightly out of tune. The flutist plays with the bass, but then sings into the instrument, creating a roughness that is at odds with the attempted consonance with the bass. It is as if at its core, the sounds the musicians make are unstable. In the first section of the piece we hear a melody being constructed. The melody is familiar, but elements of it are out of skew. This melody is not developed; it is a signpost of sorts. After this first melodic section, the piece moves into noisier, darker, and more distant realms. However, the piece does not become estranged, but rather follows an unexpected logic. Becoming Unknown is not a negative process, because each step forward either dissolves or embraces the dissonance of the past.
Becoming Unknown was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for Music and the Harvard University Department of Music for “First Nights”.