This Thursday, 3 November 2016, premieres of two new pieces by composers Elliott Schwartz and Jeremy Thurlow will take place at Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge. The pieces will be performed by the Kreutzer Quartet in a programme entitled Weaving Threads, the third in a series of concerts organised by Virginia Woolf & Music.
Elliott Schwartz reflects on his piece:
My String Quartet No.3: Portrait is, literally, a “portrait” of my late wife Dorothy, known to all as Deedee. It was composed for our good friend Peter Sheppard Skaerved and the Kreutzer Quartet.
I regard the work as a tribute to Deedee’s remarkably multi-faceted life, a look back at her rich artistic career, a response to her sudden death (after only a brief illness) in 2014, and a celebration of her wide-ranging musical tastes. Regarding the latter: I have embedded a number of quotes within the quartet’s texture. These include passages from the Western musical canon (works that she was particularly fond of), and compositions of my own that held special meaning for her. I’ve also based much of my thematic material on musical spellings of her name and mine.
Finally, three composer colleagues, on learning of Deedee’s death, were kind enough to write pieces in her memory. I’ve incorporated fragments of their memorial works into my quartet’s fabric.
Jeremy Thurlow’s piece, entitled Memory is the seamstress, was commissioned by Virginia Woolf & Music specifically for performance in the Weaving Threads concert. Jeremy says:
Written specially for the Kreutzer Quartet and commissioned for this concert, my quartet comprises six short movements in contrasting moods. I took as my jumping-off point a marvellous passage from Orlando (1928):
Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds, of rainbow and granite, and stuffed them into a case, nature, who delights in muddle and mystery, so that even now we know not why we go upstairs, or why we come down again, our most daily movements are like the passage of a ship on an unknown sea, and the sailors at the mast-head ask, pointing their glasses to the horizon: Is there land or is there none? to which, if we are prophets, we make answer “Yes”; if we are truthful we say “No”; nature, who has so much to answer for besides the perhaps unwieldy length of this sentence, has further complicated her task and added to our confusion by providing not only a perfect ragbag of odds and ends within us—but has contrived that the whole assortment shall be lightly stitched together by a single thread. Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind. Instead of being a single, downright, bluff piece of work of which no man need feel ashamed, our commonest deeds are set about with a fluttering and flickering of wings, a rising and falling of lights.
The concert begins at 7.45pm at Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge. Tickets are available on the door or online, £15/£13/£5.