Absence : for string quartet and absent violinist
by Houston Dunleavy (2011)
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Score & Part
Library shelf no. 785.714/DUN 3 [Not for loan]
killed by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He was a violinist, singer,
student and friend. His story has been told often, most famously
in the film A Mighty Heart.
There are many of us, who feel his absence keenly. This piece happened simply because of that. Not only does it owe its title and instrumentation to my memories of Daniel Pearl, but its genesis was at the request of Carolyn Levin, a violist who lives in Los Angeles.
The work is very simple, relying on the simple melody first heard in the cello. All of the harmonic material and subsequent melodic material is based on this opening cello writing. A couple of other, more symbolic elements are included in this short string quartet. The first is the use of the voices of the players to sing, as almost ghostly echo, some of the sustained string chords. This is meant to symbolise Daniel's enjoyment of singing, while the empty chair with a violin on it ought to be fairly obvious.
Absence, then, is meant to symbolise all of the contact points I had with Daniel, as well as express my affection for him and how much I miss him as a friend. I hope it proves a fitting memorial to a marvellous human being, whose death was a gruesome and terrible tragedy. It robbed us of much that cannot be replaced.
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 7 min.
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