MUQARNAS PROJECTIONS (2015) - for three violins
Premiere: New Art New Music Concert at Rice Gallery, Houston, TX, November 21st, 2015
Duration: ca. 11'22"
Muquarnas Projections was composed for the 2015 fall New Art New Music Concert at Rice Gallery. The gallery's installation at the time was "Intersections," a suspended cube with a strong bulb in the center that projects hard shadows on the white walls of the gallery and the viewers in the room, by Pakistani-American artist Akhila Qauyam Agha (http://www.ricegallery.org/anila-agha/). The designs and concentric circles on the cube are inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain, whose “muqarnas” (stalactite) designs struck Agha in her search for a dialogue between cultures. The concentric circles and proportions of the design and Agha’s interest in multiculturalism inspire the music in the piece. Three violins are dispersed around the room, surrounding the audience in the shadows. The violinists exchange different stylistic approaches to the same simple, modal material—an early music Ars Nova viol style, a folk style influenced by fiddle technique and Pakistani Qawali music, and a contemporary Western approach, full of pointillist pizzicato and sul ponticello gestures. Like the shadows from the sculpture, the music bounces back and forth, a refraction of a multi-cultural dialogue.