Everything Around Me is Crying to be Gone

19 min.

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Program Notes
It’s been a long time I’ve known [harpist] Emily Levin. And, together, we’ve been dreaming about this piece down so many years that it’s hard to imagine it has finally taken shape. Naturally, all of these versions had a lot of different names. Most of the names I give my pieces come from poetry. This used to be abstract: My music is dense and detailed and sharply drawn, and this is much like the poetry I’m drawn to. But over recent years - maybe the permission of old age - this connection has become more literal.  The eventual title that ended up entwined with this particular music comes from a poem titled 'Walking in the Breakdown Lane' by Louise Erdrich. Early on - very early on - I asked Emily to record herself reading that poem. Then I transcribed the audio using computers, and my ears. I say that not because of the ’technique’ of it - but because I started my life in music as a singer. The voice, its rhythms, and idiosyncrasies, are deeply engrained in all my music-making. I still sing virtually every line I write in my pieces, and the music of Emily’s reading has lived with me, on repeat, again and again, in so many ways as I composed over the last months. So, while it definitely is the two solo harps that are showcased here, it’s the text that haunts, colors, shapes, and drives this piece. It takes on every form: Percussion. Robot. Trumpet. Synth Pad. Scratch. String sounds. Vocal fry. Always something electronic, until suddenly, entirely human.
Recording Notes
Live and unedited recording of the World Premiere performance. Emily Levin and Michelle Gott, Harps Ben Bolter, Conductor Northwestern University Bienen New Music Ensemble