Excerpt: “Luminous”


Instrumentation: Solo viola, string quartet, and piano; solo viola, string orchestra, and piano
Duration: 17:00
Commission: Rosemary Glyde

Rosemary Glyde, Manhattan String Qt, Norman Carey;
Merkin Hall, New York, NY

Violist Emily Onderdonk, Conductor Barbara Day Turner, San Jose Chamber Orchestra
Trianon Theatre, San Jose, CA

Program Note:
Glyph (1984), for solo viola, string quartet, and piano is cast in four movements. A glyph is a figure carved in relief, and the title refers to the creative process of composition, the carving of sound in relief through time and on oneself. The four movements are titled Luminous, Flickering, Ecstatic, and Incandescent, all aspects of light. They refer to the shifting relationships that color the interactions of the solo viola, quartet and piano. The work is a mini-concerto, with a supportive rather than adversarial relationship between the solo viola and the other instruments. A lyrical opening movement is followed by a piquant second movement, an atmospheric third and a driving finale. Glyph was commissioned and premiered by violist Rosemary Glyde, to whom it is dedicated. She was joined by the Manhattan String Quartet and pianist Norman Carey. I composed it during my first residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.–JS

Press Quotes:
“This tonal, romantic music shows how little style is the measure of good music, and how one can write romantic music and be at the same time contemporary. True, this is not likely, but it is nevertheless possible – and rare as it may be, here the possible comes into being….” –Noam Ben Ze’ev, Ha-Aretz, trans. by Michael Kubovy

“….the first piece, Glyph (1984, for solo viola, string quartet, and piano), begins in rather welcoming fashion. This movement is marked ‘Luminous’ (the others are ‘Flickering,’ ‘Ecstatic’ and ‘Incandescent’). The playing here by soloist James Dunham is stunning: resonant and vital. The first movement invokes large open spaces (of time, possibly, as well as space); the more spiky ‘Flickering’ offers excellent contrast and is superbly performed, especially in the virtuosity of the speedy pizzicatos. The ecstasy of the third movement is quite reverent in nature; the virtuosity of the beautifully, skillfully written finale is most satisfying.”
– Colin Clarke, Fanfare

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