for solo violin(2017)
|Commissioned by Miranda Cuckson
|April 5, 2017; National Sawdust, Brooklyn, NY; Miranda Cuckson, violin
Dedicated to Miranda with great admiration
As people open their curtains each morning, they are more often than not greeted by the heavy smog that engulfs the city, silently swallowing and making invisible the outlines of buildings and landmarks. They read color-coded smog alert warnings each day. The brightly color-coded indications are clear alarms of pollutant levels, from unhealthy to very unhealthy to hazardous and beyond index. At the time of this writing, it has been purple for days, which means it has exceeded the index. Yet life must go on as usual. So people quietly put on their masks for themselves and their children before heading out into an unknown haze of low visibility and routine breathing, a once unconscious activity that now becomes self-aware and sometimes painful. Nobody has a clue when the smog will be gone. They wait patiently, then celebrate the instant winds pick up and blow away all the toxic particles. Relieved families enjoy a moment outdoors. But soon after, the smog returns, the airless grey descends and noiselessly devours the city and the lives within it.
How cruel it is to inhale and exhale in this unbreathable world. My throat closes and my nose congests, and my heart pounds faster. I read the color-coded air report. Soon I will depart from this unbreathable land and breathe under the blue sky, but we all are exasperated and suffocate one way or another, in this world or the other.
– Wang Lu