Lament

Solo viola or solo cello

10 minutes

2009

Lament is a part of my 54 minute piece, Lament Amid Silence, which consists of Lament for solo viola, Ghosts for six violas, Lament with Ghosts for solo viola with viola consort, and two meditations for piano solo. Each section of this piece may be programmed individually, or in combination with any of the others.

Lament exists in the space “in between” sound and silence: anguished screams and quiet songs emerge from vast stretches of silence and return again to silence. The dramatic contrast between sound and silence modifies both elements: the sound contains within itself a potential of peace; while the silence reveals its all-encompassing nature by being able to accommodate and contain the anguish. The entire piece could be described takes place in a kind of bardo realm of “in between-ness,” as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Sound that emerges from it reveals the depth of anguish that can be encompassed within the encompassing it in peace, even at its harshest, modulating the pain with the largest context possible in music. Emotionally, the vast spaciousness surrounding the anguish modifies the pain, leaving open the possibility of consolation. As the continuity of the piece encompasses both the peaceful The void surrounds As the sound gives a “local habitation and a name” to the boundless potential of emptiness.

Vast stretches of silence encompass the anguish: the work begins with a scream that emerges from silence, and at the end the work returns to silence as melodic fragments become shorter and only quiet, pizzicati punctuate the quiet.