Brett Dean “Voices of Angels”

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A compact little piece, “Voices of Angels” by Brett Dean, whose players (Violaine Melançon, violin; Meredith Kufchak, viola; Natasha Brofsky, cello; Lizzie Burns, double bass; Seth Knopp, piano) I heard in a final rehearsal the morning of the concert.

In the Big Barn, they took turns standing out in the audience, listening to the blend of voices, correcting (instructing) on volume to be sure sound would be balanced. As with a drawing, it’s not just where the line is, but the weight of the line, and how its weight plays against the weight of others.

So much nuance goes into realizing form; so many infinite variations on outcomes — some just different, some plain wrong, some that sing as if there could be no other.

(Willem de Kooning once wrote about the anxiety of being an artist this way: imagine you are asked to sculpt a perfect sphere from clay. You can add and subtract and dilute and push around all you want, but you’re not allowed to use any measuring instruments — only your eye. That, he said, is the anxiety of being an artist.)

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