'Carving an Alphabet' A Book of Madrigals for Five Cellos


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.  Rescheduled for April 27, 2023, Colburn Conservatory Los Angeles.

Instrumentation: Five cellos

Keiser Classical (keisersouthernmusic.com)

Program notes: 

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

behind them

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

Performance note:

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