Sudden, Unbidden


Instrumentation: violin, cello
Duration: 12 :30


In the spring of 2012 some friends in the neighborhood where I live asked whether I had a piece that could be performed at the closing reception for an art show to benefit the local elementary school. I wanted to participate, and I knew this piece would need to be portable and work in a small space. I had already started to think about returning to a string quartet I’d composed in 1998 and had come up with the idea of making a violin-cello duo out of it. My recent work as a composer has involved revision to a large extent, and not just the re-writing of pieces, but in a way, the desire to re-see, or re-understand, the impulses of my own work over time. It might just be a desire to get it right. The duo version of Sudden, Unbidden was performed at the closing art reception in Powelton Village, Philadelphia, and well-received by an enthusiastic neighborhood crowd, a very happy thing for me. It was played subsequently by the same players, the fantastic Miranda Cuckson and Sophie Shao, who have since recorded the piece for a CD of my chamber music. It has subsequently been performed by some other terrific duos: Andrew Waggoner and Caroline Stinson, Min-Young Kim and Tom Kraines, Juliette Kang and Tom Kraines, Frank Huang and Michael Kannen. The opening of the piece is marked Aggressively Exuberant, a musical character that I hope describes the lively, pulsed music in much of the piece. And yet things happen, unexpectedly, and so the piece also contains sudden melody and more delicate, ephemeral music. This juxtaposition embodies the intended meaning of the title, Sudden, Unbidden. As in: things happen. That said, I invite listeners to make anything they like of the title.