Commissioned for SAKURA by New Music USA.
World Premiere: SAKURA at the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, Colburn Celebrity Series concert at Disney Hall, March 22, 2020, Los Angeles POSTPONED due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Instrumentation: Five cellos
Keiser Classical (keisersouthernmusic.com)
SAKURA cello quintet's core repertoire has included direct transcriptions of Renaissance madrigals in four and five voices
ever since they created the ensemble several years ago. My response to these cello-playing madrigalists is a new book of
madrigals, Carving an Alphabet, composed with the expressivity, virtuosity and hyper-extended range of SAKURA always
in mind. The emotional landscape (lovelorn, passionate, miserable, nature-loving, awestruck, etc.) of the late-16th /early-17th
century madrigal composers and their favorite poets is also reflected here. To help me inhabit the appropriate creative space
I adapted fragments of poetry from two of my own favorite poets, Michael Ondaatje and Czeslaw Milosz, which I use as titles
and scenarios for this collection of madrigals-without-voices. The 'title song,' for example, comes from Michael Ondaatje's
book of poems, Secular Love:
and with the solitude of the air
carved an alphabet
whose motive was perfect desire
Carving an Alphabet was commissioned for SAKURA by New Music USA for premiere at the 2020 Piatigorsky International
Cello Festival and was completed in summer 2019.
- Donald Crockett
Carving an Alphabet is designed to be performed as a complete book of madrigals
in the order presented here; or, selections in any order can be chosen to fit the needs
of a given concert program.
I. Carving an Alphabet
II. A Flute from the Throat of a Loon
III. Somersaults (in Protospace)
IV. The Night and its Forces
V. Bells of the Sea
VI. Country of Warm Rains
VII. Solitude Is Not An Absolute
VIII. Painting the Variegated World
IX. By Sunrise or the Rising of the Moon
X. The Honey Gatherers
XI. Arcs of the Heart
XII. Carving an Alphabet II