For a couple of years now, rhythm has consumed me.
It all started when I got involved in the African Drumming Ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh. Slowly a new way of thinking about rhythm evolved as my mind began to comprehend what it heard my hands doing. I couldn’t shake the rhythms from my head: I’d find myself walking down the street tapping out threes with my fingers against the twos my feet made on the pavement, or I’d curtail doing the dishes to tap on a particularly resonant portion of the sink, or I’d annoy everyone around me by breaking from my work at random intervals to play the bongos.
I decided that I’d better put some of these rhythms on paper before they ate me alive.
I began with a three-movement piece for orchestra and conga called Inventions which was premiered by The University of Pittsburgh Orchestra under the direction of Roger Zahab. Next, I wrote 12 for Evan and Catherine Pillsbury, a viola and cello duo from Boston. And now comes 6 for string quartet.
The Chagall String Quartet had been playing a piece of mine called Jig on their concerts and when they found themselves with some extra money at the end of the year they asked me if I’d write something new for them. Since I was in the middle of getting together a rock and roll string quartet I thought it would be a great chance to combine my enthusiasm for string quartet with my ongoing exploration of rhythm. And what came out was a piece in 6/8 meter that bristles with rhythm: 6.