- Vasco Mendonça
A Box of Darkness with a Bird in its Heart (2020)
- Alphonse Leduc (World)
Unavailable for performance.
- 11 min
- 14th May 2023, Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Terrance Hayes’ series of sonnets is an extraordinary collection of poems: his poetry captures the spiralling social and political chaos in America (and the world) in a way no newspaper article or scholarly essay has been able to; his words have the rare quality of clarifying a collective feeling that is messy and confusing, an elusive and disturbing combination of fear, hope, perhaps despair.
I have never personally experienced (and probably never will) the reality Hayes writes about: the oppression, danger and ambiguity he reflects upon are alien to my own experience. But I nevertheless felt compelled to create something inspired by his words. To engage - how can you not engage?
The first movement of A Box Of Darkness With A Bird In Its Heart is a hurtful ostinato with an uneven, organic pulse - not unlike the way we breathe under physical or emotional strain. The second is a quiet, delicate birdsong; its very high melody almost a secret that’s unwillingly shared - followed by an expressive lament. The ending in the low register brings me the image of a viola da gamba played outside in a warm summer night, a distant tale of violence and loss. In the final movement the energy picks up, in a relentless and unforgiving mechanism of pizzicati. This piece was written for and the wonderful violinist Diana Tishchenko, and is dedicated to her.