Quartets may be performed in combination under the title Sun Threads:
1) Eagle at Sunrise
2) Invocations
3) Fugitive Star
4) Rise Chanting

  • 2vn, va, vc
  • 38 min

Programme Note

Composer’s Note:

Sun Threads, for string quartet, in four movements, has a duration of 35 minutes and [the April 30, 2003] performance by the Avalon String Quartet represents the world premiere of the entire piece.

Music is my entire life! I Cherish things deeply felt. I believe my music must be passionate, involving risk and adventure, such that a given musical moment might seem like a surprise right when you hear it but, only a millisecond later, seems inevitable. I think of my music as nuanced lyricism under pressure. I strive to attain quality of thought when it comes to inventing musical ideas, and writing for the string quartet is quite terrifying in this regard since the genre has a massive and wonderful repertoire. It is very hard to find quality new and personal sounds when composing for the string quartet.

My primary artistic concern is to communicate in an honest and passionate voice, which can speak to people from all walks of life. I believe being faithful to my deepest inner promptings and creative urges offers me the best opportunity to communicate with any willing listener, irrespective of prior musical knowledge, professional training, or background.

To all music, every listener brings his or her own unique perspective. In this regard, what is of greatest concern to me in Sun Threads is that I lead my listener to new aesthetic engagements with the world and themselves and that with each new piece, I continue on a life's journey of self-discovery.

Music of all kinds constantly amazes, surprises, propels and seduces me into a wonderful and powerful journey. I am happiest when I am listening to music and in the process of composing music. I care deeply that music is not anonymous and generic or easily assimilated and just as easily dismissed. I would say that Sun Threads has passionate, urgent, seductive, and compelling qualities of sometimes complex, but always logical thought, allied to sensuous and engaging sonic profiles.

My favorite moment in any piece of music is the moment of maximum risk and striving. Whether the venture is tiny or large, loud or soft, fragile or strong, passionate, erratic, ordinary or eccentric! Maybe another way to say this is the moment of exquisite humanity and raw soul. All art that I cherish has an element of love and recklessness and desperation. I like music that is alive and jumps off the page and out of the instrument as if something big is at stake.

One of my main artistic credos has for a long time been to do with examining small musical objects (a chord, a motive, a rhythm, a color, etc.) and exploring them from every possible perspective. The different perspectives reveal new musical elements, which I then transform and which in turn become the musical development. Thus my works, and Sun Threads in particular, take on a kind of organic, circular, self-referential quality, while at the same time, they clearly progress forward.

Eagle at Sunrise was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation for the Ying String Quartet. The work was premiered in January 2002. The work is dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky and to the members of the Ying String Quartet with admiration and gratitude.

Invocations was commissioned by the Santa Fe International Chamber Music Festival for the Miami Quartet with support from Chamber Music America. The work is dedicated to Santa Fe and the Miami Quartet.

Fugitive Star was commissioned by the Caramoor International Chamber Music Festival for the Avalon Quartet with support from Chamber Music America. It is dedicated to Caramoor and the Avalon Quartet

Rise Chanting, which was commissioned by the Krannert Center and composed for the Alexander String Quartet. The work is dedicated to Mike Ross and the Alexander String Quartet with admiration and gratitude.

— Augusta Read Thomas