Lacquer and Grit

for flute and piano
duration: 10′

Roberta Michel, flute; Mirna Lekic, piano

Program Notes

As a novice flute player, I have always loved sound of overblown harmonics. Though overblown harmonics on the flute can sound natural and peculiarly dazzling, they require persistence and great skill to control. I find that many intriguing performances and experiences exhibit this duality; it’s fascinating when a performer transcends technical difficulty to make something appear or sound effortless. They always say that behind every shiny trophy lies the work that earned it. Lacquer and Grit attempts to highlight this connection between the cosmetic and profound, and to prove that such traits are not mutually exclusive.
For example, I associate “lacquer” with many things: sheen, fluidity, flashiness, hair gel, nail polish, chrome on hot rods…in the most literal sense, lacquer is a nonessential layer slathered on to a surface to either enhance its beauty, or to create beauty where it does not yet exist. I find “grit” to be somewhat paradoxical. You often hear about these revolutionary cleaning products powerful enough to “blast away grit and grime, dirt and dust.” In this case, grit is undesirable. On the other hand, we associate grit with positive personality traits, such as resilience, resolve, and heart. Maybe a compromise between these two opposing definitions is persistence—caked-on dirt is quite resilient after all. From the plethora of overblown flute harmonics, to the bizarre G-natural that so badly wants to sound right, persistence fills this piece. Interestingly enough, fine-grit sandpaper is the last step in perfecting a lacquer finish.