Nick Virzi: "Phoenix" for Quintet (2019) | TAK Ensemble | Score Follow
Written for and performed by the TAK Ensemble (February 2019). Charlotte Mundy, Soprano Laura Cocks, Flute Carlos Cordeiro, Clarinet Marina Kifferstein, Violin Ellery Trafford, Percussion Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq8MqFj1s…&feature=youtu.be Phoenix is a song based on the epic poem The Conference of the Birds, composed during the 12th Century by the Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. As an allegory for purification and the attainment of enlightenment, this literary masterpiece follows the birds of the world on their quest for the Simorgh, the sovereign king of all birds. Led by the wise Hoopoe, a real bird whose onomatopoetic song appears ephemerally throughout the piece, and a mythical figure in many literary works (such as Aristophanes’ The Birds), the birds journey through the Seven Valleys of the Way in search of the Simorgh. The first stage is the Valley of the Quest; Then Love's wide valley is our second test; The third is Insight into Mystery, The fourth Detachment and Serenity – The fifth is Unity; the sixth is Awe, A deep Bewilderment unknown before, The seventh Poverty and Nothingness - The title Phoenix refers to the meta-abstraction of the processes of death and rebirth which one must endeavor in various guises during the Seven Valley of the Way, in order to sacrifice those human faults which prevent one from reaching enlightenment and reclaim those virtues which are essential to the quest. Throughout the poem, the birds seek for the Simorgh, losing many of their number along the Way. This is later revealed to be a pun – thirty (si) birds (morgh). The thirty birds who survive the journey find that they themselves are the Simorgh, and the metaphysical embodiment of the King which they sought. The journey was in Me, the deeds were Mine – You slept secure in Being’s inmost shrine. And since you came as thirty birds, you see These thirty birds when you discover Me, The Simorgh, Truth’s last flawless jewel, the light In which you will be lost to mortal sight, Dispersed in nothingness until once more You find Me in the selves you were before. * * * Text: The Conference of the Birds (ca. 1120) by Farid Ud-Din Attar Translated by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis ‘Before we reach our goal,’ the Hoopoe said, ‘The journey’s seven valleys lie ahead; How far is this the world has never learned, For no one who has gone there has returned – Impatient bird, who would retrace this trail? There is no messenger to tell the tale, And they are lost to our concerns below – How can men tell you what they do not know?
Nick Virzi: "Linguaglossa" for Vocal Sextet, Narrator, Film (2018) | Ekmeles | Score Follow
Written for and performed by the Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble (May 2018). Full Video: youtu.be/stDb_me5B5o Charlotte Mundy, Soprano Elisa Sutherland, Mezzo-Soprano Steven Bradshaw, Tenor Timothy Parsons, Countertenor Jeffrey Gavett, Baritone Steven Hrycelak, Bass Nick Virzi, Narration Text adapted from the travel journals of John D. Virzi, my father, written during a pilgrimage to our ancestral home of Lercara Friddi, Sicilia, on Friday, September 19th, 1986. Film adapted from the personal collection of Leonardo DiBella, my great uncle, recorded during the years 1965-1987 in both Italy and America – primarily, Sicilia and New York. Locations that can be seen in the selected scenes of Linguaglossa include Passopisciaro, Piedimonte Etneo, and Taormina, all in Sicilia, and Astoria, Queens in New York. Program Note: Linguaglossa is a small town at the base of Sicilia’s Mount Etna, formed at the divergent point of a volcanic lava stream in 1566 – and, along with Lercara Friddi, another place to which my family may claim ancestral lineage. Literally translated, Linguaglossa means “tongue tongue”, with lingua as the modern Italian word for tongue, or language, and glossa as the ancient Sicilian word of the same meaning. As such, this town represents the meeting point of the new and the old, the past and the future, with the forked tongue of Etna’s fiery mouth singing outward from the eternal present. Nearby towns surrounding Etna include Randazzo, Passopisciaro, Piedimonte Etneo, and coastal Taormina, as seen and heard in Linguaglossa. Throughout the text, there are several references to this mythical sense of time. For example, it is implied that Lercara Friddi was founded in the year 0, or perhaps 1 BC. A similar mythic ethos surrounds other aspects of my father’s experience – most notably, space, character, and image. The musical aura that envelops my narration of this story adds a third generation to my family’s continuing journey of artistic self- exploration and reflection through the dimensions of film, literature, and music.
Nick Virzi: "Songbird" for String Quartet and Birdsong (2018) | JACK Quartet | Score Follow
Written for and performed by the JACK Quartet (January 2018). Christopher Otto, Violin Austin Wulliman, Violin John Pickford Richards, Viola Jay Campbell, Violoncello During the Spring of 2017, I traveled to nature preserves throughout Northern California, hiking through valleys, mountains, forests, beaches, ridges, streams, ponds, and lakes in search of magical moments in the wild when the complex sounds of the earth fall into sync and become music. Among these locations are El Corte de Madera Creek, Thornewood, Big Basin, Windy Hill, Pescadero Marsh, Bedwell Bayfront, Skyline Ridge, Loch Lomond, and Yosemite National Park. Songbird features original natural soundscape recordings from Windy Hill, alongside the birdsong of a variety of species, including the Redwinged Blackbird, California Quail, American Coot, American Crow, Steller’s Jay, Pileated Woodpecker, Nutall’s Woodpecker, Marsh Wren, Pacific Wren, a rafter of Wild Turkeys, and three subspecies of Song Sparrow. On the Lost Trail at first light, you can hear the magnificent dawn chorus of countless birds as they swirl about in a shroud of thick, pale mist, howling wind, and drizzling rain. Not long after, at the great precipice of Hamms Gulch, an airplane soars across the Eastern horizon, passing through the rising sun as the forest awakens in golden light to a symphony of birdsong... Dedicated to my dear friends Brian Cook, Christopher Rispoli, Jeremy Wexler, and Justin Nickell.
Nick Virzi: "Six Silver Rings of (((Aquamarine)))" for Septet (2017) | Distractfold | Score Follow
Written for and performed by Distractfold (April 2017). Zinajda Kodrič, Flute Rocío Bolaños, Clarinet Daniel Brew, Electric Guitar Christian Smith, Percussion Linda Jankowska, Violin Emma Richards, Viola Alice Purton, Violoncello Six Silver Rings of (((Aquamarine))) is divided into nine sections, forming a three-part chiasmic ring structure, encasing a tape part, (((Aquamarine))), as its centerpiece. (((Aquamarine))), for solo Kingma System flute with glissando headjoint and seven recorded flutes, is divided into three larger sections formed by its golden spiral structure, which places its most significant focal point at the direct center of the spiral.
Nick Virzi: "Aux Imagistes II" for String Octet (2016) | JACK & Spektral | Score Follow
Full Title: "Aux Imagistes II: Wide Arc – Low in the Northern Sky". Written for and performed by the JACK and Spektral Quartets (April 2015). Ari Streisfeld, Violin Christopher Otto, Violin John Pickford Richards, Viola Kevin McFarland, Violoncello Austin Wulliman, Violin Clara Lyon, Violin Doyle Armbrust, Viola Russell Rolen, Violoncello After Ludwig Van Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in C# minor, Op. 131 (1826) and William Carlos Williams’ On Gay Wallpaper (1928) and The Storm (1944). I. Wide Arc – Low in the Northern Sky Interstice I II. Listless Stars – Supine to the Wind III. Black Lake - Waves IV. Of Grass or Dreams Interstice II V. Rainbow Explosion Interstice III
Nick Virzi: "The Garden of Eden" for Solo Voice (2015) | Tony Arnold | Score Follow
Written for and performed by Tony Arnold (May 2015). Text adapted from Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Garden of Eden" (posth. 1986): Please kiss me. Can I kiss you and try? And I love you and I love you and I love you …and I love you please I love you always always always – Kiss me – kiss me just once. I’m your Devil. Is this the beginning? Haya, the one who blushes… There isn’t any us, not anymore. Haya, look at me. Kiss me again please.
Nick Virzi: "Gravity" for Solo Cello (2014) | Séverine Ballon | Score Follow
Written for and performed by Séverine Ballon (January 2015). “木石之性，安則靜，危則動，方則止，圓則行。故善 戰人之勢，如轉圓石于千仞之山者，勢也。” “The nature of logs and stones is that on stable ground they are static; on unstable ground, they move. If square, they stop; if round, they roll.” –Sun Tzu, from Energy, The Art of War (translation by Yiguo Yan) As its title suggests, Sun Tzu’s ancient military treatise, "The Art of War", is more than just a study on warfare and military tactics, but also a rich literary work containing valuable perspectives and insights on matters of aesthetics, such as potential and change. For example, in the selection above, Sun Tzu describes a scenario in which an object does not realize its full potential unless it exists in an environment which unlocks that potential; a circular stone does not become a wheel unless placed on an incline, allowing it to roll. Similarly, the incline serves no purpose without the wheel for it to guide. "Gravity" is an exploration of this symbiotic relationship, in which a musical “object” grows and transforms as its “environment,” the natural phenomenon of gravity, unlocks its hidden potential (and vice versa). Through continued development and abstraction of the object and consequently, progressively more surreal, imagined manifestations of gravity, this piece explores the possibilities of sensation and the phenomenon’s synonymic, metaphoric meaning – gravity as emotional weight. This piece is dedicated to Lin Yuan, Molly Aronson, and Hannah Barnard.
Nick Virzi: "Rain Spell" for Quintet (2014) | Edge Ensemble | Score Follow
World premiere performance by the Edge Ensemble at the Gaudeamus Sessies in Utrecht, Netherlands (October 19, 2014). Program Note: The power of single moments or occurrences is often underestimated when compared to their antitheses; stretches of time that seem to make up the reality of experience. In life, it is often these singular moments that are the most meaningful to us, as they provide new perspectives on our collective experience and allow us to re-contextualize things in relatively positive or negative ways. “Rain Spell” deals with this relationship between the momentary and the longer lasting, through sections of stark contrast in content and proportion. Using musical metaphor, gradually shifting layers of texture and sound, and guided improvisation, the mimetic/sonic representation of a storm is juxtaposed with its literal and poetic antithesis (sunlight), which serves as a personal reflection and conveyance of my own views on apparent hopelessness, and hope. This piece is dedicated to Ayaka Kamei for being the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Amidst this chaos, your kindness has provided me with a moment of happiness, purpose, and relief, despite the uncertainty of the future.