CHAMBER MUSIC string quartet
2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello
Duration: ca. 12 minutes
Programme Note: Ashes was commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music for the Borealis String Quartet. It is dedicated in memory of Gene Loring, avid chamber music fan and long-time supporter of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. It was written between February and September of 2007.
The initial inspiration for the quartet was elements of fire – friction, spark, flame, burn,combustion – and the parallel to our lives. I was intrigued by little facts such as a firestorm can burn with such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. The imagery gives way to something of great intensity and turbulence. Occasionally though, there drift into the air small, delicate particles that ride the heat waves and wind system. It was easy to draw a parallel between this and life. Life has it’s own tempo, and although it often seems to pass in the blink of an eye, there are moments of repose, and moments to reflect.
The quartet is a single movement work. The introductory material is like the spark of a flint. It takes a few tries before the fire ignites. Once started, the music is propulsive and energetic. The piece relies on virtuosic ensemble playing, but there are moments when a single voice is heard prominently, both in the fast music and the slow. The title is taken from Leonard Cohen, who said:
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
Premiere: First performance by the Borealis Quartet in Tucson, March 2, 2008
Score Excerpt [PDF]