• 2vn, va, vc
  • 13 min

Programme Note

Composer’s Note:

Rise Chanting is the final movement of a four movement work, entitled Sun Threads.

In the tradition of works inspired by words, such as Beethoven's famous quartet in which he encodes the words "must it be? it must be," Rise Chanting is a one-movement work comprised of 6 of primary sections, which closely abide by and respect the form and spirit of this exquisite poem, #1005, by Emily Dickinson.

The music opens with a short introduction, which encodes the complete Dickinson poem such that there is a chord, note, or motive for each word of her poem. This is followed by an aggressive and percussive section, where playful pizzicato escapades fire up ardently and then ebb down into the third section, which is elegant and lyrical. Here, beautiful lines are sung by duos. The fourth section is determined, energetic. It is at times animated as well as bold, brash and punchy and you will hear Emily Dickinson's mandolin. The fifth section is sublime, elevated, earnest. The coda recalls the perfume of the third section and gently closes the piece with mellifluous, glowing, and shimmering music.

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 Rise Chanting 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.

Rise Chanting, which was composed for the Alexander String Quartet, is in one movement and has a duration of about 13 minutes.

Mike Ross, the Alexander String Quartet and the Krannert Center commissioned Rise Chanting.

The work is dedicated to Mike Ross and the Alexander String Quartet with admiration and gratitude.

— Augusta Read Thomas