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Abstract

"stain, bloom, moon, rain" is a work for thirteen musicians, premiered by the Grossman Ensemble in March 2020. The piece is divided into three movements: i. stain; ii. bloom/moon; iii. rain. Each word of the title refers to an archetypical image or set of images that reappear constantly across a collection of 9th and 11th century Japanese poems, in English translations by Jane Hirshfield. These poetic images serve as the guiding metaphor for the affective and sonic world of the three movements. stain explores noisy alterations or distortions of the characteristic timbre of each instrument in the ensemble—practice mutes for the strings, singing and playing for flute and horn, pedal buzzes for the harp, and aluminum foil on the bars of the mallet percussion instruments. bloom/moon features a melodic line played by all four strings, which occasionally blossoms into rich four-part harmony, before condensing back to a single part. rain charts a transformation from brittle points and harsh jabs to a blurry watercolor of bleeding colors and dripping harmonies.

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