flo, a character sketch for solo violin (2009)

Duration: 15'
Premiered by: Miranda Cuckson, violin
Premiere Date: March 2009

about the performance

Miranda Cuckson, violin
Recorded Live: Griswold Hall, Peabody Institute, Baltimore MD (2009)

about the piece

This piece was inspired by a character in Iain McEwan’s novel, On Chesil Beach. The book tells the story of a young, idealistic couple, coming up against the first test of their marriage (namely, themselves). In reading the novel, I was struck by McEuen's beautiful rendering of the characters’ internal noise, particularly when juxtaposed with their external silence. The silence is at times literal, at times figurative, but at all times powerfully significant. Florence, or Flo, the character of young wife, embodies, for me at least, the essence of the novel – the conflicts and contradictions between internal and external worlds, and what happens when the conflicts are brought to the fore.
The work is in four movements with two intermezzi interspersed. Each movement is paired with an excerpted text from the novel. The intermezzi are based on the traditional English hymn “O perfect love.”

Movement I. “The inquiry was without content, as pure as a question mark.”
Intermezzo I:  “o perfect love”
Movement II. “Thoughts instead of oxygen.”
Movement III. “But this is what it’s like to be mad....”
Intermezzo II:  Reprise
Movement IV. “And even when she reached the beach at last, she did not stop running”