SMALL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE - String Quartet (1992) Program Notes
String instruments, by virtue of their ability to slide ("glissando") between notes, can arrive at a sound close to singing. My Quartet was written in 1991-92; I had been listening to Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," particularly the a capella "Doctor Jesus" sections, and I wondered what the result would be if I attempted to notate some of the subtle inflections characteristic of African-American gospel music. So I wrote a melody with "dummy" words, "I'm Going Down to the Valley," composing and notating all the vocal inflections using quarter-tones.
This short piece was dedicated to Bill Albright, my composition teacher at the time. He died just a few years later, and now the piece feels like a eulogy to me. The Borromeo Quartet recorded both this Quartet and Soul Garden for a disc of my chamber music on C.R.I.