When Jennifer Koh asked me to write The Banquet, I was learning how to use a modular synthesizer — a type of voltage controlled musical system that predates the modern keyboard synthesizers we use today. It has certain unstable properties and I’m drawn to the beautiful and complex textures it creates because of that instability. In this context, I wanted to highlight the synthesizer’s treatment of odd and even harmonics against the natural resonance of the violin. At a critical juncture in the music, the violin moves from a lyrical space towards the abstract energy of this machine. On a programmatic level, The Banquet is about the challenges of expressing beauty during times of great emotional turmoil. I was grappling with a profound challenge in my life during the making of this piece and my desire was to feed these opposing forces into the music.
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