Glass Stratum [2011]

piccolo & violin [15’]

commissioned by mmm... for their Circle of Friends project.

performance history

11/21/2016 - Sarah Saviet & Susanne Peters. HCMF. Huddersfield, UK

11/1/2015 - Tempus Konnex . Hochschule für Musik und Theater. Leipzig, Germany

6/11/2015 - Ensemble PraesenzGalerie Schmidt&Handrup. Berlin, Germany.

6/10/2015 - Ensemble PraesenzGalerie Schmidt&Handrup. Cologne, Germany.

3/15/2015 - Rieko Manabe & Maiko Matsuoka. ホールソワサント. Tokyo, Japan

11/12/2011 - Talea EnsembleHarvard Group for New Music. Cambridge, MA

9/29/2011 - mmm... Suginami Kokaidou. Tokyo, Japan


“Rising above the elements best, though, was Timothy McCormack‘s Glass Stratum, an exhilaratingly involving piece that first compartmentalises the players with discrete behavioural characteristics—the piccolo pensive, the violin more demonstrative—before causing them to permeate, penetrate, blend and merge, ultimately becoming dual aspects of a single musical entity. There was an intense air of intimacy throughout, as though the duo were playing to/with each other in private.” - “HCMF 2016: Shorts” by Simon Cummings on his blog 5:4.

program note

"The particle [of glass] on the island takes on an enormity. Whereas the island itself is just a dot."

-Robert Smithson, Four Conversations Between Dennis Wheeler and Robert Smithson[1969-70]

Glass Stratum takes as its reference point the glass-based work of Robert Smithson. Smithson uses glass to explore concepts of scale, abstraction, matter, structure and form. Glass is a self-negating material. Smithson employs it as a massive crystalline structure: at once a fractal and a monolith. As in the above quote, a single particle or sheet of glass is somehow enormous, while a massive collection of the material would render itself indistinct and small. This is because there is no more information in a pile of glass than there is in a shard. The material collapses into itself. Though the masses of panels of glass in Smithson's Glass Strata change, the information contained at every level does not. Thus, the scale of the piece is in constant flux when perceived by a viewer, though the structure is entirely fixed. The instruments in Glass Stratum have a similar relationship, constantly differentiating themselves from each other but compiling their material into an entirely dedifferentiated form. Any single shard or plate of material is highly distinct and crafted, but, as in Smithson, what we perceive once the panes have been layered atop one another no longer bears any relation to its parts. The information does not change, but the "temporal-mass" of the object does.