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for amplified voice and string quartet

duration ~ 39 minutes

Poetry by Colin Browne

Premiered as part of Music for a Night in May at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre on May 4th, 2018

Carla Huhtanen (voice), Olivia Blander (cello), Andrew Brown (viola), Karen Gerbrecht (violin), Nicholas Wright (violin), Brian Chan (sound design)

Petal follows the journey of the psyche from turmoil to clarity. The journey is told in three movements, and the animating idea is that we relive the journey from our origin to the present every second that we are alive. All that we are and have been is engaged. The first movement establishes a figure named Petal—a combination of vulnerability and endurance—and opens with an inner conversation between the psyche and the flesh. The body claims mastery over all. Petal flees. The second movement carries Petal through a tumultuous evolutionary journey. The third movement explores the role of transformation and spirit, bringing Petal back into harmony with the world again. The soprano will encounter three voices: the self as psyche, the self as body, and the self as observer. They move from bravado to concern to fear to wonder; much of the time these actions and emotions act as narration. It may seem odd, but the shift from one voice into another will feel absolutely natural to anyone born into our polyvocal species.


Colin Browne

1. what does it want?

what does it want,
this body,
hung on a hook
it hides from me?

it don’t like my looks
we never agree

this body is a jealous god
with an ache for immortality
its surrender is an ambush

a ruse, a ploy


late one night as you sleep
it will open its eyes and whisper,
“Petal, I love you,
I prepare you for the end”

half in love, you bend

why me?

a window bangs open
run, Petal

fall in
fall through
farewell old you…

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