Stillness (2020)

For sextet (piano, cello, viola, violin, clarinet, flute)
Duration: ca. 6'

Recorded by FSU Polymorphia at Florida State University (2021)

In contrast to the many angsty, driving, and emotionally intense pieces I’ve composed in the early to mid part of 2020, I sought to create a work that would act as a kind of wind down from the turbulent year we have all experienced. A work that is more focused on simply being rather than doing, hence the title, “Stillness”. 

I was given the challenge by a music community I am a part of to compose a piece incorporating a particular rhythm- triplet eighths-quarter note. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to express my artistic needs. 

Sitting down at the piano, I improvised with the rhythm until I found the recurring motiv in the beginning. From that, naturally, sprung forth the rest of the piece. The other seemingly improvisatory melodies and gestures scattered throughout the piece don’t function as thematic material but moreover contribute to the overall texture.  

There are three moments in the piece in which I instruct the players to take a deep breath together. The reason for this goes back to a particular moment during the year in which I found myself in a constant mental and physical state of panic, with negative thoughts racing through my mind without an end in sight. Realizing the toll this has on my actual health, I took several moments over the next few days and weeks to come, to center my thoughts and to simply breathe. I want to give the performing ensemble the same opportunity to do so together.