"There would be no dance, and there is only the dance." T. S. Eliot
Inspired by the relationship between T.S and Emily Hale, this pianistic ode is dedicated to an invented love with an 8 letter name. Each section is led by different motives that are built on musical depictions of the letters of the name translated into notes. It is in essence a love poem in 8 takes, that in its culmination, mirrors the relationship between T.S. and Emily, and fails.
However, the work is also inspired by the idea of a frozen moment in time in terms of the feeling of being in love-how love dances in those moments in frenzied freedom- and how in retrospect it allows for great moments of self clarity.
The piece is further enveloped in an arc of ascension, as these frozen moments actually exist in the framework of a life and societal movements. And I believe that our current moment is upward in its trajectory in terms of goodness and clarity.
I have always believed that our art must reflect the life we lead. As a member of a multiracial family, and an immigrant to this country, I feel deep respect and love for the pillars upon which our democracy is built. I also feel responsibility in the progress and active hope we must have in order to keep good and progress afloat. This year has brought great pain and clarity, and yet it has inspired me to be a better and more reflective citizen. I am honored to write for Awadagin, and hope to give him a piece that alights the different and intriguing aspects of his mind, hands, and soul.
RECORDING PROJECT: STILLPOINT CD release scheduled for December 2022 on New Amsterdam Records
Awadagin Pratt, celebrated pianist and conductor, explores the truth and beauty found within T. S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets through its sibling universe in music.
He and producer Mark Rabideau have engaged Judd Greenstein, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Jessie Montgomery, Alvin Singleton, Tyshawn Sorey, Pēteris Vasks and myself to compose works for Awadagin Pratt, Roomful of Teeth, and string orchestra.
Composers will take inspiration from these lines of Eliot (rights granted: Faber & Faber)
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.