Warblework

1. Swainson’s Thrush

2. Hermit Thrush

3. Wood Thrush

4. Veery

“beautiful and compelling” – Jennie Gottschalk, Sound Expanse, 2013

“gorgeous harmonic resonance” – Marc Medwin, Dusted Magazine, 2018

This piece has an unusual origin. Years ago, in order to leave my home on the west coast of Canada to study composition in Europe, I raised money for my travel by selling as-yet unwritten bars of music to everyone I’d ever met. The result was a huge commission from over sixty friends, family, and community members. In 2011, with the help of the Quatuor Bozzini, I finally made good on my promise and created the piece Warblework.

Each of Warblework’s four movements is based on birdsong — of four thrushes in particular —Swainson’s thrush, hermit thrush, wood thrush, veery thrush, whose songs follow the harmonic series. When these birdsongs are slowed down, they reveal incredibly human-like melodies. These four movements therefore put forth something of a poem of the regional sounds from my home and its forests. While the thrushes move through the harmonic series, a tune in slow motion reveals melodies almost resembling folk and jazz vocality from another time.