Slender Trees

Slender Trees (2023) for string quartet & live electronics (Max). Duration: 20:00′. Premiere April 14, 2023, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The composition is written with support from Koda Culture and Danish Arts Foundation.

For streaming the piano solo extract version of the string quartet: Fragile Ambiance,
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A drawing by Vilhelm Hammershøi: Slender Trees on a Hill (1896) has inspired me to compose the work Slender Trees. I find the drawing quiet, a calm silence, and the absence of humans and animals creates an ambiance of fragility. The strong vertical lines, the horizontal hatching, and an almost sensuous geometry. The idea of the work revolves around the harsh reality of the 19th century is confronted with today’s leaping sense of time. The nature-related titles of the movements are metaphors of lost memories, love, and childhood; a dialogue between past and present:
• Scent of Trees
• Horizontal Hatching
• Fragile Ambiance
• Strong Verticality
• Sensuous Geometry
• Absence

My goal in creating “Slender Trees” was to capture the drawing’s various layers and translate them into musical movements with an emphasis on different expressions. The fragile yet beautiful piano theme is a unifying thread throughout the piece. The creative process became a meditative journey that allowed me to find peace within myself despite the unsettling state of the outside world. I sought to create a musical sanctuary, a place of calmness and tranquility.

The work is commissioned by and dedicated to the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME, NYC) on the initiative by AFSMK (American Friends of SMK/The National Gallery of Denmark) on the occasion of the exhibition: Beyond the Light: Identity and Place in Nineteenth-Century Danish Art, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Getty Museum, in collaboration with SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark.

Vilhelm Hammershøi: Slender Trees on a Hill (1896) – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase: Charles Hack and the Hearn Family Trust Gift and Harry G. Sperling Fund, 2016 – public domain