for 11 string players
Commissioned by the Goldberg Ensemble in 2002 and first performed by them at the Goldberg Contemporary Music Festival, Leeds 2003.
Breaking Strings explores fracture: from flowing melodies ruptured and redistributed in tiny motifs across the instruments (‘hocket’), to temporal misalignment, blurring of musical line and even emotional disruption. Many ways of splitting and splintering musical fabric are explored but the enigmatic title hints at perhaps more:
When to her lute Corinna sings,
Her voice revives the leaden strings, And both in highest notes appear,
As any challeng’d echo clear.
But when she doth of mourning speak, Ev’n with her sighs the strings do break. (Thomas Campion, A Book of Airs)
6 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos, 1 Double Bass