Neal Farwell - composer - conductor

Photographs of Water

for multichannel fixed media (2013)

At an artists' residency in Florida in 2008, I met two poets whose voices caught my ear and whose words hooked my thoughts. David, in his twenties, voraciously inquisitive, contemplated mortality. Ann, in her eighties, looked back questioningly on a life well lived. They recorded several poems with me, to use in this piece. Beyond the poems, I recorded many new sound materials, and drew others from a personal catalogue spanning a decade. Instrumental materials owe to my alter-ego as violinist and conductor. There is a contrast of nature and other recordings made, not in the USA, but, mostly, in Britain and France. A tentative conversation between ages, and places, the piece is a contemplation of the passing of time and lives.

The texts are excerpts from Drought, Life, and Photo of my Dad by David Bartone (1980 –); and Kayak (complete), and excerpts from On Entering My Seventies and Reading the Tao Te Ching at Eighty, by Ann Brewer Knox (1926 – 2011). Orchestral materials were recorded with the University of Bristol Symphony Orchestra. The pipe band was recorded at a street parade at the Festival de Cornouaille 2012 in Quimper, Brittany.

Photographs of Water received its first performance at the Electroacoustic WALES concert at Bangor University on 7 November 2013.

The sound example is an excerpt from the middle of the work, here presented in a simple stereo mix-down. The full duration of the work is 15’45.

Electroacoustic WALES, Bangor, UK, 7/11/2013.
Electric Café: Sounds from the UK, Rutgers University, NJ, 12/11/2013.
Sonic Voyages, Bristol, UK, 04/12/2013.
BEASTiary, Birmingham, UK, 02/05/2014.
ICMC14-SMC14, Athens, Greece, 16/09/2014.
INTIME 2014, Coventry, UK, 18/10/2014.
SEAMUS 2015, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 26/03/2015.
EMS 2015, Sheffield, UK, 23/06/2015.

Technical information: the full concert version of Photographs of Water is for 11 discrete loudspeaker channels: an octaphonic ring (orientated as left-right pairs) plus an additional arc of three frontal “solo” channels. The work is also available as 9- and 8-channel versions for smaller concert systems. Full performance materials and technical info are available from the composer.