- violin, cello & piano
- published by Skitter Music Publications
Grabbing – Snacthing – Blink – And You – Be Gone (2016)
Inspired by the photographs of MacArthur Genius and 2016 National Artist Award winner Carrie Mae Weems, the piano trio “Grabbing – Snatching – Blink – And You – Be Gone” was composed for the Society for New Music in honor of the artist. Ms. Weems photographs – which depict the now empty but once important centers along the slave trade route in western Africa’s Ghana and Senegal (such as the holding facilities on Gorée Island) – and accompanying text (that also serves as the trio’s title) summon the fear, humiliation, and helplessness felt by the recently captured Africans as they waited to embark on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic to a life of slavery.
To musically represent the struggle of these Africans, melodic fragments of the Negro spiritual “Down by the Riverside”, whose biblical imagery may be read as an allusion to escaping slavery, are interrupted by or dissolved into extremely aggressive, chromatic and syncopated material. Eventually the cello gives a complete presentation of the spiritual in its high register, but the conflict persists as the violin and piano accompaniment occurs in the wrong key with rhythmic figures derived from the opposing material. However, by the final cadence the tune and accompaniment finally appear in the same key, albeit with one more statement of the contrasting material in the piano – references to successful victories against oppression and the continuing struggle for freedom that many people throughout the world unfortunately experience to this day.
Grabbing – Snatching – Blink – And You – Be Gone was premiered at a Society for New Music concert on June 12, 2016 in Syracuse, NY by Ahreum Kim (violin), Gregory Wood (cello) and Sar-Shalom Strong (piano).