The image of snow in June comes from a 13th century Chinese drama by Kuan Han-Ching, in which a young woman, Dou Eh, is executed for crimes she did not commit. Even nature cries out for her innocence: her blood does not fall to earth, but flies upward, a heavy snow falls in June and a drought descends for three years. Elegy
sings of pity and purity, beauty and darkness, and is a lament for victims everywhere.
The work is a set of free variations. Beginning with sparse, searching phrases, it coalesces to the theme which is found in the middle, then disperses again. The voice of the cello opposes and joins four groups of percussion which each are given solo passages. The singing of the cello contrasts with the sound of tearing paper, the roughness of stones and cans.
was commissioned by the New Music Consort, and first performed by Madeleine Shapiro (cello), Claire Heldrich conducting.