Delerium

Concertino for flute, cello, and microtuned harpsichord (Yamaha DX7II synthesizer) (1997)

Ripieno of Partch instruments: harmonic canon, kithara II, boo, and diamond marimba

1. Tremolodeon

2. Wildflower
3. Alabama Rondo
Premiere performance at the Knitting Factory, January 6, 1998
Newband, conducted by Dean Drummond: Stefani Starin, flute; Greg Hesselink, cello; Elizabeth Rogers, DXVII; Jim Pugliese, harmonic canon; Michael Lipsey, kithara II; Bill Ruyle, boo; Dominic Donato, diamond marimba.

duration: 12′


program note

Delirium, completed in Brooklyn in 1997, was commissioned by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust for Newband, who premiered it at NYC’s Knitting Factory. It subsequently opened the Bang on a Can Marathon at BAM in 2001. A concertino of flute, cello, and microtuned harpsichord (played on synthesizer) navigate through a sea of Partch instruments (harmonic canon, kithara II, boo, and diamond marimba) that sometimes shadow them, often support them, and occasionally take over entirely. For years, I’ve been fascinated by a colleague’s anecdote about a chamber music concert during which an unstable audience member erupted in spontaneous, hysterical laughter whenever the music swelled in emotion. In Tremolodeon, the conventions of classical training – equal temperament, controlled tone quality – are enthusiastically and maniacally overthrown in a fit of musical intoxication – a flute sonata run amok. The other movements have a different source of inspiration; in the summer of 1995, I attended a photography show called Delirium at the Ricco-Maresca Gallery in New York. Many of the pictures suggested music to me, especially one of a little blind girl twirling rapturously in the Helen Keller School for the Blind in Alabama in 1957; she was about the age I would have been then, with the same clothes and haircut. Wildflower is the music I imagined she was hearing. A surrealistic photo of a boy with steam coming out of his ears prompted Alabama Rondo, which overflows with snippets of pieces I couldn’t get out of my head any other way. Delirium is dedicated to Newband’s flutist, Stefani Starin.