Olive Trees

Quartet for two clarinets and two cellos. Premiered on March 25, 2015 by the Either / Or Ensemble at Elebash Recital hall at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Van Gogh, Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun

Program Note: While writing this piece, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw one of Van Gogh’s paintings of Olive Trees. I was inspired by the way that this painting combined opposing elements: in some ways it felt mechanical and static, and in others very natural and irregular. The image is divided into distinct areas (the sky, the parts of the trees, the ground), and each area is made up of repeating brushstrokes of a few colors. The brushstrokes are neatly lined up in a sort of pattern, yet are all slightly different and form curving shapes. My piece aims for a similar effect: Each area of the piece is made up of only a few sounds (colors) repeated as regular pulses (brushstroke patterns), yet irregularly shifting between sounds (slight brushstroke differences and curves). The different areas form the “landscape.” While my piece does not aim to conjure any concrete images, the elements work together for an effect like Van Gogh’s.

Recording of the premier, performed by Either / Or:

Video from a recording session with Maria Hadge (VC), Thea Mesirow (VC), Vicente Alexim (CL), and Alex Yu (CL).