J. S. BACH/MELIA WATRAS: BACH BROWSER
for violin, viola and cello (2017)
World Premiere: Frequency Ensemble (Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola; Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello); May 13, 2017, Seattle, WA
Do you ever quit your internet browser with a bunch of windows open, and when you click it back on later all of the windows start playing different pieces of music at the same time? This often happens to me, and I love hearing the resulting Ives-ian mashup of music from multiple styles and time periods, unfolding in unexpected ways.
As I was thinking of this technological happenstance, I remembered an improvisation that my student Irene Putnam, a composer and violist, presented in my viola class. Irene improvised while a colleague played a Bach work, an idea I explored in creating Bach Browser. I also had the desire to incorporate space: something to emulate the calls and discussions of birds around the neighborhood after a rainfall. In this arrangement, I imagine all of the browser windows as types of birds, perched throughout the hall, singing Bach. Some bird/windows have their own take, and some files are corrupted with viruses.
I arranged this piece for my ensemble, Frequency, for a concert called Bach Refractions.