NADIR for recorder (or flute),
viola and tape. 1988. Commissioned by the Canadian Electronic
Ensemble for Peter Hannan and Rivka Golani, with a grant from the Ontario Arts
Council. 7 minutes. Score/part and CD with the audio playback component
During the early stages of composing this work in November and
December 1987, I was shocked by the untimely death of Canadian
poet and dear friend Gwendolyn MacEwen. A couple of months earlier
my teacher, composer Morton Feldman had also died and even though
we were not on talking terms since my student years, his loss
was deeply felt. Gwendolyn had a thorough knowledge of the Arab
world, she wrote a novel set in ancient Egypt and traveled the
Middle East extensively before writing her greatest work, "The
T. E. Lawrence Poems". Morton had a great interest in Oriental
rugs and Arabic art in general, in the patterns of which he recognized
aspects of his own work. I remember a number of times that both
of us were seated on one of his own rugs studying the patterns
whose symmetries are often imperfect because "only Allah
is perfect". I was thinking about all that and also about
the war between Iran and Iraq, where people blinded by religious
fanaticism and hatred have plunged into the wholesale business
of destruction seeking and causing death in the name of God, not
realizing perhaps that God is one, but He/She has many names.
All of these thoughts crystallized finally into Nadir,
a death dance. So Gwen and Morton dance on
.for death is
only the awakening from the terrible nightmare of life.
Note: Several years since the composition of this work, the music of Nadir
was re-arranged (and expanded) for string quartet and eventually became the
third movement of String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering).
April 29, 1988 by Peter Hannan, recorder and Douglas Perry, viola
at a Canadian Electronic Ensemble concert, Music Gallery, Toronto.
[In Nadir] the sounds of the Mediterranean are attractively
woven with the intensity-filled sounds of an invisible orchestra
produced by the tape. The imaginative writing unfailingly holds
the interest of the listener.
George B. Monemvasitis, ELEFTHEROTYPIA (Greece)
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