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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

Rising (for flute and string quartet) (2009)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
16 Minutes
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Programme Note
Joan Tower Rising (for flute and string quartet) (2009)
Related works:
   Rising (for flute and string orchestra)
   Rising (for flute and string quartet)

March 31, 2010
Carol Wincenc, flute
Juilliard String Quartet
The Juilliard School, New York, NY

Composer Note:
I have always been interested in how music can "go up." It is a simple action, but one that can have so many variables: slow or fast tempos, accelerating, slowing down, getting louder or softer — with thick or thin surrounding textures going in the same or opposite directions. For me, it is the context and the feel of the action that matters. A long climb, for example, might signal something important to come (and often hard to deliver on!). A short climb, on the other hand, might be just a hop to another phrase. One can’t, however, just go up. There should be a counteracting action which is either going down or staying the same to provide a tension within the piece. (I think some of our great composers, especially Beethoven, were aware of the power of the interaction of these "actions.")

The main theme in Rising is an ascent motion using different kinds of scales — mostly octatonic or chromatic — and occasionally arpeggios. These upward motions are then put through different filters, packages of time and varying degrees of heat environments which interact with competing static and downward motions.

— Joan Tower

  • Ensemble
    Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival
    Carol Wincenc, flute
  • 17 MAY 2019
    Queens New Music Festival
    Secret Theatre, Long Island City, NY
    Random Access Music
    Lish Lindsey; flute; Laura Jean Goldberg, Sabina Torosjan; violins; Liuh-Wen Ting; viola; Kate Dillingham; violoncello

Green Mountain Festival Players on Bridge 9373: Critic's Choice for 2012
People who know Tower’s craftsmanship and motivic working methods inspired by Beethoven will recognize those qualities here. The musical narrative never flags. I find palpable drama and commitment in this performance.
Todd Gorman, American Record Guide,01/01/2013
Though Haydn’s 'Sunrise' quartet (Op.76 no.4) was given its title by a publisher its opening is a good example of music describing the action of rising as is Vaughan Williams’ 'The Lark Ascending.' Joan Tower’s Rising is a brilliant addition to these works. The music perfectly achieves its aim and the flute seems to be the ideal instrument to use for this purpose. It is an extremely evocative piece of great beauty which represents everything that is the best about contemporary music, namely that it is exploratory yet immediately accessible.
Steve Arloff, Music Web International,01/09/2012
In Joan Tower’s Rising, written for the occasion, Ms. Wincenc was joined by the Juilliard String Quartet. Just over 15 minutes long, that handsomely made work posed a central opposition: Ms. Wincenc, now a songbird fighting gravity and gusty crosscurrents, played short ascending motifs that the string players seized, stretched or compressed and reoriented downward. Mournful, combative and suspenseful by turns, the piece ended not in a triumphant flourish but with an uneasy accord.
Steve Smith, The New York Times,01/04/2010
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