Through the Burrow
for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, timpani, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass
duration ~ 12 minutes
Premiered on June 28, 2011 at the Ann Southam Hall | National Arts Centre
NAC Composers Programme, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Jean Philippe-Tremblay
The title Through the Burrow is a reference to Kafka’s unfinished story The Burrow in which a mole-like creature struggles to find peace in an intricate system of underground tunnels it built throughout its life. As a composer, I find it difficult not to think in terms of music when perceiving different art-forms, and in this particular case, I was inspired to articulate my response to Kafka’s story through a musical allegory. More important than the narrative, I wanted the music’s character to be a figurative representation of the context in which the narrative takes place –conveying mood and atmosphere rather than specific plot points. The burrow in the story is an underground labyrinth made up of tunnels and chambers designed to avoid potential threats to the main character, and so the complex nature of this construction suggested the formal equivalent of a through-composed piece where the musical material constantly keeps changing and moving forward through long stretches of time. The piano has a central role within the ensemble, and it also served as the basis for the construction of the whole work.
Through the Burrow was written with the support of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies during the Wall Composer-in-Residence Appointment.