for you [ 2017 - 2020 ]

for violin & piano

Incantations [ 2018 ]

for trumpet & piano

Sleight of Hand [ 2017 ]

for alto flute/flute & 'cello

(opt. arr. for alto flute/flute and bass clarinet)

Unintentional Dances [ 2016 ]

for clarinet & piano

Circles [ 2014 ]

for piano duo

(or percussion ensemble))

 selections from

Night, like velvet: in twelve letters [ 2013 ]

for mixed duos

DUO WORKS|

PORTFOLIO

 
for you [ 2017 - 2020 ]

for violin & piano

MEDIA

ABOUT
For You is a multi-movement work for violin and piano written for and dedicated to Adam von Housen, who has been a core member of The Curiosity Cabinet for many years, and is a wonderful advocate for my music and my art. Such a passionate individual who is so dedicated to his own performative art form is incredibly inspiring, and I am honored to have been able to work with him so closely on these works. 

Taking three years to complete, the work spans six movements for the duo. While each of the movements are quite different, it is clear that the evolving relationship between the two instrumental voices in the main concern of the work. They both know each other and are strangers at the same time. When one voice reaches, another voice retreats. As one voice creates problems and obstacles, the other tries to untangle them. The work is a comment on the complexities of relationships through the lens of love: the known and the unknown. 

No. 1: as the heart beats; constant, and for you (2017)

No. 2: as I reach, you retreat (2017)

No. 3: like wildfire, I burn for you (2017)

No. 4: like thread, bind me to you (2018)

No. 5: in waiting for you (2019-2020)

No. 6: in progress (2020) ]

Incantations [ 2018 ]

for trumpet & piano

 

ABOUT
Incantations is a four-movement work for trumpet and piano, commissioned and premiered by Ashley Hedlund. The individual movements are meditations on a singular thought, and are meant to be repeated as many times as the performer desires, therefore performance length will vary based on the duo's preference. Ideally the works are also presented with the thoughtfulness of meditation: lights are asked to be dimmed, and the formalities often encompassing art music to be released. If possible, the work would be presented in an installation space where the audience can engage with the performance as they desire. Movements can be presented out of order, as the duo wishes. 

Incantation No. 1

Incantation No. 2

Incantation No. 3

Incantation No. 4

Sleight of Hand [ 2017 ]

for alto flute/flute & 'cello

(opt. arr. for alto flute/flute & bass clarinet)

 

MEDIA

ABOUT
Sleight of Hand for flute and 'cello was a commission from the New York based duo Pieces of Eightcomprised of flautist Martha Cargo and 'cellist Ben Larsen. The duo commissioned ten original works for performances in New York and the surrounding areas for the 2017/18 season. 

The work is inspired by the infamous magician Houdini. The work appears with the mysterious quote by Houdini in the subtitle:

Some say I do it this way,

others say I do it that way,

but I do it the other way. 

The work optionally includes the statement of the quote at the outset of the work by the flute player and quickly works into a rhythmic frenzy. The musical material is mainly composed of small motives that are combined in different ways to create longer melodic material.

 
Unintentional Dances [ 2016 ]

for clarinet & piano

ABOUT
It’s hard not to name you—but that’s just the way things are: difficult- tangled in code and riddled with no hope of ever becoming unwound. I’ve managed to write you these four letters—unintentional dances, if you will—in remembrance of our brief time together. I could write pages over you, and have on many occasions—how could I not? You make me think that pose is poetry...that we’re living in a rich painting, saturated with color, smelling of exotic linseed oil, morphing and forever changing. I can now only hope that you recall that tender moment when we were able to dance together—and that someday you may return to it—there can be so much more of it. I have wasted too many days without you, and do not wish to continue watching them drift as if they were dry leaves in the wind—the seasons, the doors closing—do not let them shut. Return to me—my heart. It beats for you.
 

I. Refuse to Die (Tango)

II. There I am a Lie (Scherzo)

III. As if Standing on Fishes (Waltz)

IV. The Wingbeats of your Flight (Two-Step)

Circles [ 2014 ]

for piano 4-hands or percussion quartet

 

ABOUT

The thematic material that pervades Circles emerged initially in a piano score for a wind ensemble peice which California State University, Chico commissioned from me in the summer of 2005. (Perhaps, as an aside, I offer this experience to my composition students: never write a piano score and then orchestrate it—always write for the instruments you intend to perform your piece). Unsatisfied with the end result, I have looked back to this piece ever since, trying out this material in other works. At least 50% of the material in the original has been scrapped for being tedious, boring, predictable, or otherwise trite. Yet the central thread has remained intact, and perhaps strengthened. While the original is more rhythmically regular than most of my current work (where time signatures may literally change by the measure), my fascination with rhythmic layering began in this piece.

 

After the timbral exploration of disintegrating clusters in the low range of the ensemble which opens the piece, the main theme emerges. A drone-note slowly expands in intervalic space, reaching a climax before collapsing in upon itself. The quarter-note triplet motive, which saturates the reminder of the piece, is also revealed in this introduction, and gains momentum as this rhythmic idea traverses the range of the ensemble into the stratosphere. What follows is a playful interaction of two simple polyrhythms: two-against three and three-against-four. Intermittently the ominous opening material collides against these polyrhythms. In the largest sense, the piece is a simple A-B-A form, and these circular qualities to the piece emerge in both large and small scale forms, in rhythmic contexts, and in thematic pitch material.

 

ABOUT

Night, like velvet: in twelve letters is an interdisciplinary work in twelve movements. George began the project in January 2013, constraining herself to write one movement during each month throughout the year. Each movement was written as a musical letter to someone in George’s life. The instrumentation takes into account the makeup of her ensemble (the Curiosity Cabinet), the dedicatee(s) of each movement, and her desire to include differentiated timbral combinations throughout the cycle. Mirroring the non-linear nature of memory, Night’s monthly letters can be performed in various orders, each of which brings out different structural and expressive relationships. Thus, though a full performance of the work could imply a linear narrative, the cycle remains multivalent, providing a range of affective suggestions.A selection of poetry or prose from Sylvia Plath or Ted Hughes accompanies each movement.

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Though George chose texts from different periods of each writer’s life—some when they were romantically involved and some not—she maintains a thematic focus on displacements of time, fragmentation rather than cohesion, and the alternately amorous and strained meanderings of communication between lovers. In the composer’s full score (which is excessively colorful due to her penchant for highlighting meter changes), as well as in each instrumentalist’s part, lines or words of the

 

selected texts are correlated with specific musical moments. In a sense, these texts are a silent continuo part being juxtaposed with the music, but they are only “heard” through realization by the reader/listener.Evoking the productive tension between process and product, George’s Night is a fragmented yet loosely programmatic reflection of creative life of its composer and nostalgic mediation on the passing time.

movements for DUO

Night, like velvet: in twelve letters [ 2013 ]

a multi-movement work

for chamber ensemble

copyright

Whitney E. George

2020