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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

White Water (String Quartet No. 5) (2011)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
String Quartet
Year Composed
20 Minutes
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Programme Note
Joan Tower White Water (String Quartet No. 5) (2011)

First performance:
April 14 2012
Daedalus String Quartet
Chamber Music Monterey Bay
Carmel, CA

White Water is the first of four commissions for Chamber Music Monterey Bay's "Arc of Life" project. The artist Bill Viola shared excerpts from his video installation "Going Forth by Day" — a depiction of life in all its stages — with the four commissioned composers to serve as their inspirational focal point. The Bill Viola Studio will make still images from "Going Forth by Day" available to presenters for their audiences at performances of these pieces.

Composer note:
When I saw [Bill] Viola's work, I was quite fascinated with how he used water as an encompassing image which influenced everything I saw about the "person" inside the water. My piece is not directly associated by what he specifically did but it does have a strong connection to the image of water as a powerful basic idea and action. The many glissandos hopefully create a "fluid" environment that connects the various ideas and registers together, while "white water" somehow implies more rapid "cascading" types of action which occur throughout the piece.

— Joan Tower

At Carmel's Sunset Center last night, Chamber Music Monterey Bay and the Daedalus Quartet unleashed a world premiere performance of Joan Tower's string quartet, White Water. I use the word "unleashed," because what we heard was a bold dramatic work full of suppressed violence straining to burst its bounds. This work alternates between many emotions, some of which are enigmatic, dazzling, disturbing, serene, and virtuosic to the extreme, but also totally absorbing. White Water grabs you by the throat and commands your attention for approximately twenty minutes, and seemingly only a brief twenty minutes at that. The first impression given by this work is how beautifully effective it sounds. To what degree this was determined by Tower's skill in writing for string instruments or the fabulous playing of the members of the Daedalus Quartet, was difficult to say. The work itself and the performers seemed to be totally together as one. The work began with a lovely viola solo by Jessica Thompson consisting of a scale-like melody, echoed by the other instruments that always seemed to be thrusting upwards, sometimes diatonically, sometimes chromatically and sometimes as eerie glissandos. Also quite memorable was a lovely cello solo by Thomas Kraines and the rich pure sound of violinist Min-Young Kim. The cumulative effect of the white-hot energy generated by this work drew a warm response from the audience both for the performance and for the appearance on stage of composer Joan Tower.
Lyn Bronson, Peninsula Reviews,15/04/2012
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