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Video transcript

as part of the gun Simoni commissions for my last season as music director in Seattle my dear friend Joseph Shawanda wrote a piece called a poet's hour for solo violin and strings 10 years ago my wife Janet and I decided to move to southern New Hampshire where we've been living since that time and there's something about the spirit of that land and so I've been reading lots of Thoreau obviously a transcendental writer from New England and I recall these words from his journal of 1853 there are from time to time mornings both in summer in winter when especially the world seems to begins anew beyond which memory need not go it's the poet's hour and one of the things about living in New Hampshire is a kind of extraordinary environment and get up early in the morning and the miss waves through the trees and kind of extraordinarily an invigorating environment and to now lead an artists life to make my own decisions about how I proceed through the day it has really been most meaningful for me and so a music is really tinged by that environment obviously and for me the I guess the violin part is the poet's voice in this composition when I first heard it I immediately really loved it I because I thought I remember two words coming to my mind haunting and beautiful and you know I really it's it's very simple but those two words like really struck me like that that mood that the music was conveying so you know I started learning it and it was surprisingly challenging I call it a soliloquy for violin and orchestra it's not a solo piece obviously but in some ways in my mind the piece could also almost be played just as a violin solo it's not to say that the the orcish the string work sure is not important it is obviously but I had that kind of narrative a kind of continuum there's almost not a place where the violin doesn't play and so you're attached as in a as in a dialogue where you're listening to someone reciting a poem you know you start off very simply now in a way if I put them all together it's really quite beautiful but it's not what you'd expect so you have this which almost sounds like this chord but then he he doesn't do that he plays this note so it's this chord and then he adds this one and then this one and that's that's the language in the sense that sets the tone when you have everyone playing very softly these pitches and holding the pitches and then the violin comes in and the violin plays all fourths and he does them as harmonics so when you watch Ian Ganey play he's not pushing a note down he's pushing one finger down and touching with another and that creates a note that's two octaves higher so he's playing this note but this one comes out because of that it's a eerie kind of sound if you think about what what Joe was trying to do with the poet's hour and and the mornings and summer and winter it's it's hesitant it's like the morning is just about to begin then he finally brings in the cellos and basses just to do these pitches and then again he does the same kind of building of pitches but in a completely different register when the violin comes in he gives in play all sixths then the same material but this time there are single notes in the violin they're not double stops anymore and and there and it's answered by the auction plane and then violin solo and then again walk straight back and forth and then the same note from the beginning for the cellos and basses and this then bills with that same material just exactly that and then it comes to an end and after comes to an end the violence section plays just very simple so that's what the violence play while the violins are playing that the solo violin is playing those same harmonics again in the high register but what becomes really interesting is that the the cellos basses violas and second violins have a figure that that begins and what happens is the bass plays the first one with the cello and the second with the cello the third with the viola the fourth note with the seconds so is and every one of those pitches is held again gives us a whole nother sound than the basses play there's pizza Cano so they're plucking and when they stop and they go home that remains that section then comes to an end and the solo violin now leads the next section and and this becomes a little a little more complicated he has this note that he does it's a whole whole nother mood and then that is developed then it brings us to a kind of a section that's a little more stagnant with a lot of little stops and starts basically with the same material and then we have a little cadenza and now the central section begins the central section is is basically this this kind of rhythm changing pitches and the accompaniment then the solo violin which we recognize and then the answer is from the orchestra and then the solo violin and then again the answer from the orchestra this material continues it repeats you know I think it's in a sense it's a little minimalist in the sense that it's it there are subtle changes but it keeps repeating the same material but what's interesting that the changes are are fascinating and they don't it doesn't last long before he moves on to the next idea but the ideas all relate I'm it's extraordinary then another little cadenza and then the violin has a whole extended section where he's playing very fast notes leading to a full-blown cadenza when the cadenza is over this ostinato passage in the basis begins and it goes on for a long time you won't even notice it after a while because the other members of the string section are playing something not dissimilar while the violin plays again some real virtuoso double stops basically he the violinist brings back all that material develops it in this kind of almost primitive way in the accompaniment and it leads back to the same the same kind of fourths we did as harmonics and finally bases you'll hear again playing again you know you won't even notice that they were there all of a sudden the piece ends and that's it they're just they're playing it very poignant very subtle very beautiful and I think yogini played it exceptionally well you