Angélica Negrón Gone, 2018 Commissioned by Andrew W. Siegel
Premiered on June 22, 2018 at Caramoor Music Fesival, Katonah, New York. Written for Sō Percussion.
Angélica Negrón Go Back, 2022* Written for Sō Percussion * US premiere
Vijay Iyer Torque, 2018
Julia Wolfe Forbidden Love, 2019 Forbidden Love was co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall, and written for Sō Percussion. The world premiere was performed by Sō Percussion at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on June 1, 2019.
Concert duration: approximately one hour and ten minutes
Gone and Go Back are two short pieces written for Sō Percussion as part of a three-part series inspired by things I deeply care about but am sometimes afraid to confront. Each piece in the series focuses on the quartet’s interactions with a series of mechanical instruments built by Brooklyn-based artist and engineer Nick Yulman. Yulman’s sound machines (called the Bricolo Mechanical Music System) consist of a variety of mechanical modules that users can attach to acoustic instruments or physical objects, allowing digital music makers to incorporate robotics into their performance and recording setups. Each piece requires the performers to interact with the modular music devices in different ways.The first piece in this series titled Gone was written in 2018 and explores the visceral, physical feeling of emptiness and absence while at the same time searching for connections and meaning in those things and people that are left. The second piece titled Go Back, written in 2022, confronts the anxiety and internal conflict I have around the idea of returning to my home of Puerto Rico. I’ve been living in New York for the past fifteen years and though I’m constantly traveling back to the island to visit family and friends, for the past few years there seems to be a growing imminent pressure and almost impulsive need to return home. Parents getting older, close friends returning to the island and raising their new families, as well as a new wave of young Diasporicans returning to contribute to rebuilding the island after the many natural disasters, social and political crises—including disaster capitalism. Circular migration has long been a part of the Puerto Rican narrative and over the past few years I’ve been struggling constantly with the simultaneous conflicting desire to go back to the island, a growing duty to participate in the local fight, an increasing yearning to be close to my loved ones and the difficult realization that this might not be the best decision for me at this point in my career and in my life. Go Back uses cacerolas and calderos (pots and pans) in Nick’s mechanical modular devices to evoke the domestic sounds of my childhood and the sounds of resilience and resistance that characterize many of the protests on the island as well as in the diaspora as a particular form of sonic protest known as cacerolazo.
Vijay Iyer Torque (2018)
At the piano, I listen for how the contortions of the hand can suggest the surges of a body in motion. In my trio music, I’m often evolving rhythmic shapes, shaping gestural patterns with an embodied resonance, and striving to evoke specific qualities of movement with our performed rhythms. Someone once compared us to the Flying Karamazov Brothers, with their coordinated, cyclical, antiphonal actions. I see the work of the rhythm section as a ritual of collective synchrony, aiming above all to generate a dance impulse for everybody in the room.
Torque, a twisting force on a body, seems to appear for the listener at music’s formal boundaries, when one movement type gives way to another. This piece for Sō Percussion invites them to perform transformations that twist the music’s temporal flow, bringing the micro-relational art of the rhythm section to this virtuosic quartet.
Julia Wolfe Forbidden Love (2019)
Forbidden Love—all the things you aren’t supposed to do to string instruments. My first year of college I wandered into a class called Creative Musicianship. One of the first assignments was to write a short piece using a musical instrument in an unusual nontraditional way. I thought, “What?” So, when Sō Percussion asked me to write them a piece using the four instruments of the string quartet, it was the second time this challenge was posed. The beautiful thing about Sō is that they are so open, so collaborative, full of adventure, and can-do attitude. Together we discovered and drew out beautiful ethereal and crunchy sounds from this iconic quartet of instruments. In the process I developed a very personal new language (boings, szhings, hammering, and more).
Forbidden Love is dedicated to Jane Heirich—that wonderful teacher who in that life-changing class first asked me to step outside the box.