A Conversation with the Gravel Pit (2012, World Premiere)

I. Reverence: The Pine Bluffs in the Rain II. Wandering: The Gravel Pit III. Solace: The Meadow Each of these pieces for flute and guitar is inspired by a different location on the trail. I sought to portray not only these places themselves, but how it felt to move through them. I. Reverence: The Pine Bluffs in the Rain One afternoon I got caught in a storm and climbed up under the pines for shelter. I thought about how artificial the steep mound of trees was, and yet, at the same time, how natural when blanketed in rain, with a soft carpet of pine needles underfoot. There was also something sacred about being at such a great height in such a beautiful place… I tried to capture these sensations in music that is both steady and soaring. II. Wandering: The Gravel Pit Most of my visits to the Gravel Pit were on warm days, and descending into the treeless expanse of the pit, the air was immediately hotter and drier. The heat, the strange scrubby vegetation, and the sudden lack of “trail” often led to a certain feeling of disorientation. The music begins with unsteady pulse, as guitar and flute oppose one another in jagged vs. lyrical lines. The piece gradually evolves into something more gentle and regular− just as the Gravel Pit is now being reclaimed by nature. III. Solace: The Meadow The most natural of the three locations, the Meadow is also the simplest, consisting only of trees and grass, trail and sky. Whenever I arrived here in a state of anxiety, the deep quiet and the gentle waves of wind-blown grass would begin to soften the churning in my brain. Back in the studio, I composed sweet and nostalgic music, remembering how I have found solace not only in nature, but alone at my instrument. In reworking this piano solo for guitar and flute, I made the two parts rhythmically and harmonically supportive, and with minimal directions in the score so as to give the performers the widest possible interpretive freedom.  

Eleanor Aversa

Noted for being both lyrical and bold, the music of Eleanor Aversa has been honored with national awards including the Northridge Composition Prize, First Prize in the San Francisco Choral Artists’ New Voices Competition, and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the I-Park Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony. Other awards include the Brian M. Israel Prize and a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts for her work with choreographer Danuta Petrow-Sek. Eleanor’s work has been performed in 18 cities in 10 states, including venues such as the Boston Conservatory, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Symphony Space, and Tanglewood. Dr. Aversa holds a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Princeton, an M.A. in Composition from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a Ph.D in Composition from The University of Pennsylvania, where she studied on a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship.
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