excerpt (last 5’45”)
- flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, & percussion (1)
- published by Skitter Music Publications
Transparent (2008) is the result of a collaboration between composer Rob Smith and choreographer Karen Stokes. The music and dance were created simultaneously to reflect their shared ideas and concepts, and by working this way both artists were significantly influenced by the other throughout the creation of the work. The premiere performance was on October 11, 2008 with the Houston-based contemporary chamber music ensemble Musiqa and the Travesty Dance Group. One of their most important points of reference was the poem “Variation on the Word Sleep” by Margaret Atwood.
The definition of “transparent” includes the “ability to completely and clearly recognize what it, he or she really is”. This seems to directly relate to the desire of the speaker in Atwood’s poem to become closer to another person through their sleep, ultimately seeing and experiencing everything as they do. Softly swelling notes, heard in the opening of the work in the flute and clarinet, suggest the slow and deep breathing that occurs during sleep, and the attempt to unite with someone is symbolized by numerous canons. Steadily increasing intensity represents the gradual descent into dreams, ultimately facing one’s “worst fear” with the arrival of a rapid tempo, angular melodic lines and insistent bass drum figures. After this driving and aggressive material exhausts itself the music gradually rises, “up the long stairway”, and becomes brighter to reflect the rescue of the sleeping person from their “grief at the center of (their) dream” and the union of two souls.