Wax and Wire

for clarinet, violin, cello, & piano
duration: 7′
written for the Music from Copland House Ensemble for CULTIVATE 2014
winner of the 2015 Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award from Composers, Inc.
winner of the 2016 Cortona Prize

Performance by the Cantata Profana Ensemble
Gleb Kanasevich, clarinet
Jacob Ashworth, violin
Hannah Collins, cello
Daniel Schlosberg, piano

Program Notes

About a year ago, I was introduced to the figurative wire sculptures of Michael Gard. Though his sculptures are made of metal wire, many of them are depictions of dancers in gentle poses that impart a delicate quality to their innately harsh material. Gard describes his artistic process:

“Each figure begins as a block of clay and a spool of wire. The clay is sculpted. This sculpture is reproduced in wax. Individual lengths of wire are woven and knotted stitch-by-stitch around the wax form. Finally the wax is melted away, leaving a rigid figure, both light and strong.” [www.michaelgard.com/]

The wax sculpture provides a firm foundation, but disappears from the final work, becoming at first soft and then formless. The wire, at first bent to the will of the wax, preserves the structure, but in a way that gives bounce to the remarkably intricate skeleton. Wax and Wire is a translation of Gard’s process, using musical “smears” as an aural representation of such duality. The smears are constructed of chromatic scales in the piano that are successively destabilized by quartertone embellishments in the clarinet, and then by glissandi in the violin. By the end, these smears melt away, revealing a transformation of a rigid idea presented earlier in the piece.
This work was composed for CULTIVATE 2014, Copland House’s emerging composers’ institute, and was premiered by the Music from Copland House ensemble at the Merestead estate in Mount Kisco, NY on June 22, 2014. Heartfelt thanks to Michael Boriskin, Derek Bermel, and the Music from Copland House ensemble:
      Hideaki Aomori, clarinet
      Harumi Rhodes, violin
      Nicholas Canellakis, cello
      Blair McMillen, piano

Premiere: June 22, 2014
CULTIVATE 2014. Mount Kisco, NY
Music from Copland House Ensemble