The Root and the Crown

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I composed The Root and the Crown across a period of over a year; re-drafting, re-working, proliferating material. I began to feel as if the act of composition was perhaps more in this process than in the finished piece itself, the object. The raw musical materials I was working with felt alive. They felt like things that could grow, change, mutate. I found it hard to fix them in place. The finished piece hopefully achieves a balance between the organismal and the structural. It’s been something of a departure for me – or rather, maybe a further few steps into a more adventurous approach to composition.

The title, of course, refers to parts of the tree. It’s also a quote from a text written by artist Paul Klee in 1924 which attempts a kind of phenomenology of the creative process. It seemed appropriate in both respects.

The music is some of the most abstract I’ve written – in the sense that, mostly, it is self-reflexive. Its various textures are informed by the particular “colours” of Crash Ensemble, its distinctive personalities – for example, the particular weight of its string section, or the specific darkness of alto flute, bass clarinet and muted trombone in combination.

I thought about my friend Bob Gilmore often as I wrote the piece. The first draft was finished not long before he passed away, and the final draft completed close to a year later. Certain moments in the piece are there just for him.

The Root and the Crown was commissioned by Crash Ensemble for its Free State 9 concert, with funds provided by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Garrett Sholdice, Dublin, January 2016

Instrumentation: alto flute, bass clarinet, trombone, percussion (1 player), piano, electric guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass
Duration: circa 18′
Date of composition: 2016
Commissioned by Crash Ensemble with funding from the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
First Performance: Crash Ensemble, Free State 9, Engineering Library National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace Dublin 2, 22 March 2016.
Score: Please email to obtain the latest score.