Composing process – PSALM XIII

In May 2014 I was visiting Amsterdam for several meetings and concerts, and sitting in a cafe for a break, relaxing in the sun, I had got an email. The text was as following: “when will we receive the material? You are late.”
Panic! That was a message from Austria by a contemporary ensemble ‘Klangforum Wien’ – they just wanted to inform me that I am missing the deadline for a piece for string quartet that I should had written. I belived that the deadline was – 2015, not 2014. What a total failure. They gave me some more days. That day was Thursday and the material should be sent by email on Sunday evening.
Immediately I borrowed a music paper sheet from Christian (Karlsen, conductor and friend of mine I visited than) and started to compose. I asked him to show me all scores of string quartets he had at home (and in his library is almost only the contemporary music), but it was just disturbing – I needed to compose my own music.
I composed it everywhere I managed to, even on the airport. Every few measures I composed, I took a picture of it by mobile and sent it immediately to my copyist in Argentina. Despite the fact that I am a professional violinist too, I tired to avoid composing for string quartet for several years.
But now, such a pressure…
Finally, the piece was finished in three days. That reminds me Shostakovich who composed his 8th Quartet in three days as well.

***

Psalm XIII is composed in the late May as the final part of “Patterns of intuition”, an arts-based research project hosted by the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and funded by the Austrian Science Fund. Psalm XIII is originally composed as a string quartet, which was premiered by Klangforum Wien, and later orchestrated for symphonic string orchestra which was premiered by Alabama Symphony and Rune Bergman.
The composition is built on a single melody line, a chant – as a singer in church, synagogue or mosque; and a single pedal tone called ison, a kind of repetitive sound that should be played as a mantra-background, imitating church bells, sitar or nasal singing.
My intention was to develop music out of this simple genome and to find the entire new creation – echoes that come from the heart’s humility and compassion.

To the choirmaster.
A Psalm of David No. 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
 lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

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