Performed by Nathaniel Wolff, Bethia Kong, Jean Smith, Amy Ahn, Justin Cao, and Aidan Gold at the Bowdoin International Music Festival on July 29th & 30th, 2023.

This piece was inspired by the painting Sleighing by Emilie Stark-Menning, viewable as part of the Bowdoin Art Museum’s exhibition Supernatural.

Emilie Stark-Menneg’s Sleighing depicts the artist herself in the midst of painting a re-creation of the Renaissance artwork Apollo and Daphne by Pontormo, while being pulled on a sleigh through a cloudy, surreal landscape.

In my piece, the harpist takes the role of the artist, creating windows in time, space, and sound through which the music flows. After an introduction establishes the foggy present that we are floating in, the harpist ‘composes’ – pulling fragments out of the fog, experimenting, daydreaming, rejecting some ideas, much as we often do in the process of art-making. Once we settle on a figure, the harpist then opens up windows for the other musicians in several ways:

A section where you can only hear the music’s true nature by looking through the harp as a window through time;

A section where the harpist’s hands create windows in pitch, establishing that we can only hear the parts of the music that are between those hands;

And a section where the other musicians make a connection by looking through the window of the harp, and the harpist realizes that they have the power to block that window;

As we tumble our way through various fragments of music, we gradually become aware of the vehicle that we have been using to make this journey through time – the sleigh itself, simultaneously playfully childlike and strangely unsettling.

For additional information, questions, or parts requests, contact Aidan.