• Augusta Read Thomas
  • Mansueto Tribute, 'double helix' (for violin and viola) (2016)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • vn, va
  • 4 min

Programme Note

Related works:
   Mansueto Tribute, 'double helix' (for violins)
   Mansueto Tribute, 'double helix' (for violas)
   Mansueto Tribute, 'double helix' (for violin and viola)

Composer note:
For today's dedication ceremonial, the metaphor of a double helix seemed apt on numerous levels. For instance, envisage a double helix of human being & library — library & human being, each functioning in intimate relation with the other, each conditioning both its own future and the future of the other. Virtuosic, capricious and heartfelt, this music combines and transforms motivic materials that are simultaneously majestic and ornamental. Baroque-like with arabesques and trills, the Tribute swirls through auras including lyrical, ardent, fluid, impassioned and ablaze with energy. Akin to a double helix, both parts are equally virtuosic; likewise, each violinist serves as protagonist as well as a fulcrum point on and around which the other player's musical force-fields rotate, bloom and proliferate.

My works are organic and, at every level, concerned with transformations and connections.

Although highly notated, precise, carefully structured, thoughtfully proportioned and although musicians are elegantly working from a very specific text, I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled — on the spot. As if we listeners are overhearing a captured improvisation. I like my music to be played so that the inner-life of the different rhythmic syntaxes is made explicit and is then allied to characterized phrasing of colors, harmonies, keeping it alive — continuously sounding spontaneous. For their precision and technical mastery, I thank Janet and Yuan-Qing for playing my notations in this manner.

MANSUETO TRIBUTE, "double helix" was premiered at the University of Chicago’s William Rainey Harper Memorial Library at the dedication ceremony of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, designed by Helmut Jahn, on October 11, 2011 by violinists Janet Sung and Yuan-Qing Yu.

Viola version premiered by Erin Rafferty and Davis King on September 19, 2015 as part of Chicago's Ravenswood ArtWalk.

— Augusta Read Thomas

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