Commissioned by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble
In 2015, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, in a project called "Music In Their Words," commissioned nine composers, including me, to create works from the speaking voice of a significant 20th-century composer, one who'd had a strong impact on their own work. I chose Arvo Pärt; when I first encountered contemporary music, he was one of the living composers whose music genuinely moved me. I had read a description of Pärt's music as "both infinite calm and a house on fire," which struck me as poignantly apt. A field recording of Pärt's voice came from a delightfully earnest video interview he did with Icelandic experimental pop star Björk in the late '90s. As I listened to their conversation about the ways music in which music affects a listener, I heard a simple F major triad undulating in marimba, piano, and clarinet. From there, I tried to let the piece unfold relatively free of agenda or judgment, something I don't often do. The first performance direction is "somewhere between plaintive, tender, and anxious."
— Sarah Kirkland Snider