Writing for solo piano is a daunting task. Not only because of the rich, deep, and revered repertoire it has accumulated over the centuries, challenging any who would dare, to write something better; but also because working with a pianist can be an equal challenge in itself. However, Richard Belcastro was not one to be daunted by the prospect of working with me, and when he told me he was going to write that piano piece, I asked him to make it, well, interesting.
And, well, he did.
Shouts and Murmurations is, as Ricky says below, about contrasts. Contrasts in dynamics, texture, rhythmic pulses. What makes these contrasts especially interesting is that they happen in very rapid succession and within very short spans of time.
It makes playing through them sort of like finding oneself in Washington Square Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon when everybody’s out – the locals, the tourists and NYU students, the street musicians and acts of all kinds – taking in the myriad activities, the noise, the movement, the colorfulness of this transient park community (let’s not forget the squirrels and the entire gamut of dog species parading about, and the occasional primped up pig). Except, the pianist is not comfortably sitting on a park bench absorbing the charming spectacle from a safe distance sipping on a rich Italian double espresso and feeding the squirrels. No. The pianist is all that hustle and bustle, busily making all those activities come to life in that wonderful park so you can sit back and take it all in. It’s a colorful, engaging, virtuosic (I mean, interesting!) piano piece in 3 movements that had its premiere on May 11, 2015, in Lancaster, PA.
“Shouts and Murmurations was composed for pianist Ju-Ping Song. This piece is about contrasts. It’s about peeling away layers and exploring minutia while never fully losing track of all of our distractions and the passing of time. It’s about all the flowers we’ve never stopped to smell and every single one we ever have. It’s about voices in a crowd begging to be heard over the loudspeaker; the line we walk each day between overwhelming anxiety and a lasting calm.” – Richard Belcastro