2222 – 2220 – piano – 1 perc. – strings
duration: 9 minutes
Commissioned by the Lexington Philharmonic, with generous support from the Saykaly Garbulinska
Composer-in-Residence Program, and the National Endowment for the Arts.Premiere by the Lexington Philharmonic, Scott Terrell conducting (April 11, 2014)
On August 11, 2013, my son Luca was born, and in that single moment, my life changed forever. The past six months have brought the greatest joys I’ve ever known, and I can no longer imagine life without him. When it was time to write a new piece for the Lexington Philharmonic, I knew that this would be a very different work for me. My son embodies many different cultures and religions (e.g., Judaism from me, Catholicism from my wife, and Chinese, Peruvian, and Iranian blood). He is being raised bilingual, as Spanish is my wife’s first language. Knowing that my son is part of so many different cultures, I wanted the spirit of this new work to embody the spirit of others. Canto can mean singing, chant, or song.
Ever since Luca was born, I have been writing him lullabies. I play them while he sleeps, and often sing them to him before he goes to bed. In many ways, I envision this work as a dream within a dream. A lullaby that emerges from a chant. The music is the slowest music I have ever written, and it’s very atmospheric and textural. The piece opens in a harmonically ambiguous way before announcing the chant like feeling in G. As the piece unfolds, the music moves from one texture to another, while always stating the presence of G. The key of G has been historically referred to as the “People’s key,” as many of the greatest classical works, popular songs, even our star-spangled banner were originally conceived in G.
Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, a German poet and theologist wrote a book in 1806 called Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (The Ideas of Aesthetics and Music), and within this book he discusses affective characteristics of each key. This is what he says about the key of G:
Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,–in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.
Canto is about family and love, and it’s dedicated to my wife Janine, and son Luca.
February 7, 2014