Live performance from March 8, 2020 in Oberlin's Wurtzel Theater.
This piece was co-created by Dan King (percussion), Helen Newby (cello), and Peter Swendsen. The primary point of departure was a field recording of a cluster of red-winged blackbirds, made in northeast Ohio in early March, at which point these birds are moving north to breed. The sound of their clusters points toward spring but typically comes well before the season itself changes. As such, they provide both a visual and sonic flash of color in a landscape that has been for months, as Wallace Stevens puts it, “Full of the same wind/That is blowing in the same bare place.”
The development of the percussion and cello parts prioritized both sonic and physical proximity between the two performers. Sounds were sought and gestures choreographed that allowed the performers to have an intimate conversation with their instruments as well as with each other. They do so in the midst of a soundscape that hovers on the edge of seasons, hinting at tangible times and places but ultimately floating in between.