for viola and cello (2013)

World Premiere: Melia Watras, viola; Caroline Stinson, cello; April 28, 2013, Tenri Cultural Institute, New York, NY

Program Notes:
Litanies have had a powerful effect on me for as long as I can remember. Something about the ritualizing of simple exchanges, the making out of basic, repeating elements, a formal, impersonal chain of calls and response struck me from the beginning as powerful, beautiful, at times mysterious and frightening. Litany arises from this personal history of ritual (or maybe, more to the point, acts as a ritualized personal history); the action it traces is non-specific, but seems very much in this year of collective mourning to give voice to something dark, barely contained, very much in need of healing. This, perhaps, comes at the end, as the chord which closes out the progression on which the piece is based moves from the neutral resonance of the cello’s C/D, to the softer, gentler and more resonant major of C/E. Litany is dedicated with love and gratitude to the concentric duos of Melia Watras, Caroline Stinson, and Tawnya Popoff.

—Andrew Waggoner