Memory places

for small ensemble

Composed in 1991, Memory places is a piece I wrote as a graduate student at Princeton, almost as an ‘escape’ from being immersed in the world of computer music and sound manipulation. It draws its inspiration from the Renaissance notion of the ‘Theatre of Memory’ (I had recently read Frances Yates’ extraordinary book on the subject), and the fact that instrumental music – played by live, human performers – is a remembering of sound quite unlike that of recorded sound, entailing a building of sonic ‘edifices’ before our very ears. While I was probably dwelling overly on ontological niceties, I was also enjoying the experience of writing for people, to play. Aspects of these concerns are built into the way the piece is composed, with performers responding to each others’ materials and ‘picking up’ aural objects for quasi-improvisation. It was the last piece I wrote in this vein, but I was quite pleased with the result – and this wonderful performance by the Princeton New Music Ensemble.The piece has been performed in both the UK and USA, and reached the finals of the ALEA II International Composition Competition, receiving a performance conducted by Gunther Schuller.

Recording: Princeton New Music Ensemble, live performance. Please contact me if you’d like a score.