The Violin Concerto has a strange history. Beginning as a work for Violin and Piano called Fading Light, written when I was a student at the University of Toronto. It was shelved. The student who asked me to write it wasn’t able to perform it—I forget why. Then, during a reading at an event called Classical Social (which was a Classical music jam session that existed for about a year back around 2013-14) with only a few people in the room, one of whom was an accordionist who asked me to write a work for him, which I did, called Silent Steps. But again this work for Violin and Piano was shelved.
Then, when I began to write a Violin Concerto I decided to adopt a few lost works, taking a movement I had written for Viola and Marimba and Chamber ensemble adopting it for Violin and Chamber ensemble, and then pulling out the old work I mentioned, for Violin and Piano, and developing it for the group—Euphonia.
What is interesting about this is how we reverse engineer different aspects of our lives. As Kierkegaard said—We live our lives forward but understand our life backwards. But we re-write our memories too, we create narratives that justify our reasons and so on. Once I knew a friendship was over once because his sister told me that he had told her I was moving to either somewhere in Europe or New York, neither was the case. This was a story that gave a reason for the end of our friendship and our work together.
What is interesting is the powerful way we can bring different, even alien, aspects of our life into a single view; but, the experience is often measured by our feelings of alienation; narcissism. So when I write, when I write music, I am seeking to include that which has been alienated. This is the same in film and in how I write here, in this blog: because it is simply how I see the world: fragmented.
When I was a kid I would find things. I recall thinking how amazing it was that people would throw things away and I could find them and make something from them. I had bikes I made from parts found in the garbage, records I heard that were discard, chairs and countless other things too. Yes, there was the economic circumstance but there was also the ontological force to reconcile and unite.
Recently I have been filming my father talking about portrait painting. This is an on-going project that began about two years ago. I have learned many things about the mind that paints and the soul that experiences in talking to him. He said, “The ‘Primary Image’ in portrait painting is the painting and not the person you are painting.” He explained that there is an understanding that you are finding a connection with the subject within yourself and insodoing bringing out from within oneself your own image—you are painting yourself through the act of empathy.
As the Violin Concerto unfolds, as it reveals itself, it is the primary image; it reveals me. But it will be encapsulated in a work and understood as a work, subject to interpretation, market forces, desire, ambition, ambivalence, distain, and so on. In short it will be an object just as a canvas is an object. And again just like the canvas it will hold within itself the primary image. Its history enfolded into the experience--a fading light.