THESE BROKEN WINGS
Duration: 16 minutes
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, cello
Commissioned by eighth blackbird
Premiered by eighth blackbird on March 22 2008 at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va.
Copyright/publisher information: Red Poppy Music (ASCAP)
The composer writes:
The three movements of these broken wings concentrate on three different physical and musical challenges. The first movement consists of music that requires incredible stamina and intense concentration. Sad, falling gestures dominate the slow second movement, and I gave the vague but hopefully inspiring instruction that the players should drop things when they are not playing. In the last movement I wanted to make a music that danced and pushed forward, in the hope that it would encourage the musicians to do so as well.
About the composer:
In the words of the New Yorker, “With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), David Lang, once a post-minimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.”
Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair for 2013-2014, Lang is one of America’s most performed composers. Many of his works resemble one another only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalog is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.
the little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Paul Hillier’s vocal ensemble, Theater of Voices, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music. Of the piece, Pulitzer juror and Washington Post critic Tim Page said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved by a new, and largely unheralded, composition as I was by David Lang’s little match girl passion, which is unlike any music I know.”
His recent works include love fail for the early music vocal ensemble Anonymous 4, with libretto and staging by Lang, at the Kennedy Center, UCLA and the Next Wave Festival at BAM; reason to believe, for Trio Mediaeval and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra; death speaks, for Shara Worden, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Owen Pallett, at Carnegie Hall; concerto (world to come) for cellist Maya Beiser and the Norrlands Operans Symhoniorkester; writing on water for the London Sinfonietta, with libretto and visuals by English filmmaker Peter Greenaway, and the difficulty of crossing a field, a fully staged opera with the Kronos Quartet.
“There is no name yet for this kind of music,” wrote Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed of Lang’s work, but audiences around the globe are hearing more and more of it, in performances by such organizations as Santa Fe Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Boston Symphony, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and the Kronos Quartet; at Tanglewood, the BBC Proms, the Munich Biennale, the Settembre Musica Festival, the Sidney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival and the Almeida, Holland, Berlin and Strasbourg festivals; in theater productions in New York, San Francisco and London; alongside the choreography of Twyla Tharp, La La La Human Steps, The Netherlands Dance Theater and the Paris Opera Ballet, and at Lincoln Center, the Southbank Centre, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican Centre and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Lang is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Musical America’s Composer of the Year, Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair, the Rome Prize, the BMW Music-Theater Prize (Munich), and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1999, he received a Bessie Award for his music in choreographer Susan Marshall’s The Most Dangerous Room in the House, performed live by the Bang on a Can All-Stars at the Next Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Carbon Copy Building won the 2000 Village Voice OBIE Award for Best New American Work. The New Yorker named the passing measures (Cantaloupe) one of the best CDs of 2001. Lang’s CD pierced (Naxos) was praised both on the rock music site Pitchfork and in the classical magazine Gramophone, and was called his “most exciting new work in years” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The recording of the little match girl passion (Harmonia Mundi) received the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.
Lang is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective, Bang on a Can. His work has been recorded on the Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, BMG, Point, Chandos, Argo/Decca and Cantaloupe labels, among others.
For more information about David Lang, visit davidlangmusic.com