Now to begin — Why fear the end


for Calithumpian Consort (fl/b fl, clr/b clr, pno, perc, vln, vc) (2023) (11’) (part III of Spiral Triptych)

Program Note:

Now to begin... Why fear the end was composed across the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another. Work on this piece began in Chicago and Dublin, was erased and restarted in Darmstadt, and then completed in Montréal. This piece also completes (a word I hesitate to use in any definitive sense) my Spiral Triptych, following my works five images for mixed quartet, and Triskelion, for large ensemble. I found myself reaching back to previous works of mine for sonic elements and processes that I felt I could have a new perspective on several years later. All three pieces (as well as two offshoots — Revenir, for horn trio, and Catharsis for double bass) make use of strange loops in their processes and structures, although they manifest quite differently in each piece.

The primary material in this piece (thorny, tightly-knit but changing microtonal sonorities) and some general sonic characteristics (especially in the percussion) are derived from exhausted materials at the end of Triskelion and reworked in a new context. Much of my original planning and intermediate sketching for this piece ended up on the cutting room floor at various stages of the process; about half of the piece was written in one week in December. I see this piece as both an ending and a beginning (simultaneously within the piece and in an extramusical sense), and as a continual transformation of itself (bordering on obsession). My main hope is that listeners find something surprising.

The title (which I chose very early in the compositional process) comes from the poem “Consolatio” by the Black Mountain poet Robert Creeley, printed below. I am often drawn to art that is desolate, yet hopeful.

Now to begin... was commissioned by and composed for the Callithumpian Consort and Stephen Drury with the generous support of Dr. Jeffrey Duryea. I am eternally grateful to Steve for the experience of the 2021 Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, which led to the creation of this piece. I am still reflecting on and learning from that experience, which has taken me forward in many ways.



What's gone is gone. What's lost is lost.

What's felt as pulse– what's mind, what's home.

Who's here, where's there– what's patience now.

What thought of all, why echo it.

Now to begin– Why fear the end.

— Robert Creeley



Performance History:

  • Forthcoming