COVID-19: CONTAGIOUS SOLITUDE
new works for cello alone
During the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians continue to find ways to create art and connect to each other and audiences old and new. I have been working with composer friends on a hopeful little project: the result is new short pieces for solo cello which I am recording from home during the the Stay-at-Home order, and hope to perform many times going forward.
Make sure you don't miss a piece:
Daniel Pesca: In Solitude
I wrote my solo cello work In Solitude in March and April of 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was seizing our world. Suddenly, we were asked to maintain social distance, and to shelter in place in our homes. The ambient feelings of that time, uncertainty and anxiety, are reflected in the emotional states the piece moves through: from the searching, plaintive opening through the mind-racing quality of the perpetual motion (which constitutes the middle section of the piece) to the sense of time slowing down towards the end. The piece was composed for Paul Dwyer’s project “COVID-19: Contagious Solitude,” and is dedicated to Paul with gratitude for his artistry and friendship.
Daniel and I first collaborated in 2010 at the Aspen Music Festival. I was a current and he was a future member of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble but together we ended up performing all three sets of Beethoven variations for piano and cello. Little did we know we would both end up in Chicago several years later: Daniel as a professor at University of Chicago and myself playing at Lyric Opera. We've been playing recitals together ever since – even though he's moved on to a great teaching job at University of Maryland Baltimore County. I'm happy to discover the composer side of Daniel – which is no less distinguished than the pianist side – especially during this difficult time when making music with friends isn't possible in the ways we're familiar with.
Jonathan Dawe: Before the Hour of Terce
In April  near the start of the pandemic lockdown I found myself reading each night a story from the Decameron. This expansive book written in 1353 during the Black Death, premised upon a group of young Florentines who escape the ravages of the plague by sequestering themselves in deserted villas in the Tuscan countryside, seemed timely to me. The work not only touched upon our feelings of loss but also the current lack of direction and graspable awareness of time we experience now in our lives each day. This vast volume by Giovanni Bocaccio resonated with this -not just in the endless tales told each day to pass the time, but also in the very measuring and marking of the days of the week and the hours of the day. Rather than the specific allotments of the clock (a more modern invention,) time was indicated by the Medieval canonical hours. Rather than specifying exact points, these nine divisions of the day and night defined larger regions without firm boundaries. I was struck by a resemblance in how many of us now seem to measure our days, with these larger types of brush strokes. These roughy three-hour zones now take on qualities that offer new perspectives, not just the texture of the day, but the very pacing (or existing in) time. The hour of Terce is approximately 9 AM, the start of the ‘working’ day for which we all await. The time ‘before’ reveals the calm, lonely, and uncertain time which appears for us now an endless dawn.
The highly innovative and conjured world of composer Jonathan Dawe joins Baroque imagery with a modernist mix, cast with dynamic dramatic flair. Cited for his "quirky, fascinating modernist variations on earlier styles" (Time Out) his music involves the recasting of energies and sounds of the past into decisively new expressions, through compositional workings based upon fractal geometry. Recent pieces and productions have been described as “music of such vitality and drama” (New York Times) "a brake-squealing collision of influence" (Boston Globe) and "bound to be provocative." (Time Out) Described as “one of our most talented and distinctive – yet little-known – contemporary composers” (Seen and Heard International.) www.jonathandawe.com