Transparent Walls

for chamber wind ensemble, amplified cello, percussion, and celesta

I have been fascinated with different systems of organization, let’s call them structures, and, abstractly, with ways things are ordered.  What attracts me at this point is a subtle, often invisible relatedness among everything, those connections we see only in rare moments of clarity.  In those moments it seems that time slows down and lets us glimpse through otherwise opaque walls that all of a sudden become transparent, become like a magnifying glass.  And we see through, we feel the force of knowledge, we feel the timelessness that consumed us, and an eye-blink later, we are back, with walls opaque again.  In this piece, I explore the moment of being in front of transparent walls, with answers just about to reveal themselves, while the moment in time is stretched to an unidentifiable length and we are generously let in.

I chose a group of wind instruments plus percussion, celesta, and cello solo for this work.  Working with wind instruments as a primary force in a piece excites me, as it gives me an opportunity to mix their sounds and create colors and sonorities that extend beyond the individual characteristics of each instrument. 

I find the sound of wind ensembles to be so distinctively American, because of all great band music written in the country.  Brass music from Serbia, the country of my origin is, on the other hand, typical for wandering Roma musicians, who play at fairs, weddings, funerals, and at taverns – that kind of rugged, brutal brassy sound was also an inspiration for me.  It has been a rewarding process of discovery in this piece of how those two elements, the American and Serbian, can merge in my own music.

In Transparent Walls, in non musical terms, cello and saxophone carry the roles of individuals, seekers, while the remaining instruments, like voices, or sirens, or sighs, or horns, are there to whisper, reveal, or cry out all that there is behind those transparent walls.

The piece, choreographed by Dusan Tynek in 2010, is on the repertoire of the Dusan Tynek Dance Theater in New York City and has become Part One of Trilogy in 2013.

Sketch for Transparent Walls