Kyle Gann: Composure

In an article in the October 13, 1985 New York Times Book Review, called "Writers and the Nostalgic Fallacy," novelist Marilynne Robinson once wrote:

The literature of expostulation, of Catastrophe, is taken to be very serious. But among people carried along in a canoe toward a waterfall, the one who stands up and screams is not the one with the keenest sense of the situation. We are in a place so difficult that perhaps alarm is an indulgence, and a harder thing - composure - is required of us.

I was so impressed with this thought, which succinctly distilled my own reasons for turning away from what one might call the 20th-century Music of Catastrophe, that I typed it onto an index card and kept it above my desk for years. Many of my pieces have aimed to express composure - this is the first one to use the word as a title.

The piece was commissioned by guitarist Tim Brady, to whom I am extremely grateful, for the April, 2008, "Voyages: Montreal-New York" festival.

World Premiere: April 4, 2008, at Thˇatre la Chapelle, by Tim Brady, Antoine Berthiaume, Kevin Gallagher, and Gary Schwartz

Duration: 13 1/2 minutes

- Kyle Gann

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