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The Flickering of a Four-Cornered Eye

  • The Flickering of a Four-Cornered Eye is the eighth section in Night, like velvet: in twelve letters, an interdisciplinary work in twelve movements. Whitney George began the project in January 2013, constraining herself to write one movement during every month of the year. Each movement was composed 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. Unlike the other movements in the set, this work was revised in February 2014 in preparation for the premiere performance in the Spring of 2016.

    A selection of poetry or prose from Sylvia Plath or Ted Hughes accompanies each movement. Though George chose texts from different periods in each writer’s life, 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 movements where the text remains unsung, lines or words are correlated with specific musical moments in the score. In a sense, these texts are a silent continuo part; they are juxtaposed with the music but are only “heard” through realization by the reader/listener.

    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.

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