Secret Ground


Instrumentation: Flute, Bb clarinet, violin, cello
Duration: 14:45
Commission: Roxbury Chamber Players
Premiere: 1/29/91
Roxbury Chamber Players
The Women’s Club, Richmond, VA

View Score |   Purchase Music

Program Note:
Secret Ground was inspired by Martin Buber’s I and Thou, and its title is a quote from that source. To me, it suggested both the exploration of reciprocal relationships among the members of the quartet and the notion of the intense presence of music and the vitality of communication in the moment. The title also refers to the traditional musical notion of the “ground,” a repeating bass line that weaves the structure together. Here, the “ground” is more hidden and refers to the underlying pitch structure around which the four instrumental parts are built. The shifting surface relationships project dramatic change despite the constancy of this background. The changes are articulated by shifting timbres and by colors that are in effect emergent properties resulting from the combinations of instrumental groupings. They are also heard in the shifts from shadowy contrapuntal movements to dynamic rhythmic sections. Secret Ground crystallizes around the changing instrumental relationships, with two duets soaring out of the quartet texture, and two extended solos responding before it comes to rest in a resonant quiet. Secret Ground was commissioned and premiered by the Roxbury Chamber Players. –JS

Press Quote:
“…Flutter tonguing… and impish pizzicatos on the strings added to the complex timbre of this artful piece. The crowd applauded enthusiastically, as well they should have.”
Boston Globe

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard