Four Dances (2021) for string quartet

Four Dances (2021) for string quartet • LMP046

Browse the score here.

Performed by the Sheffield Chamber Players

Sasha Callahan and Zenas Hsu*, violins

Stephanie Fong, viola*

Leo Eguchi, cello​~*guest artist

I. Transitions

II. Pursuit

III. Shawq شوق (Yearning)

IV. Unity (We dance together)

Program notes:

These Four Dances are taken from a recently completed dramatic work, a hybrid opera & dance theatre work currently with the working title of Clorinda. The name Clorinda comes from Monteverdi’s opera Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, whose libretto is from the epic poem by Tasso titled, Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Liberated).  With the exception of the third movement, all these dances are taken from the music that I composed for Clorinda.

The first movement marks the transition from the world of Monteverdi to re-imagining Clorinda as a modern-day refugee from the middle-east, trying to survive in the west.  The second movement mirrors the energy of escape from difficulty. The third movement, titled Shawq, which means nostalgia or yearning, was written for Clorinda but was deemed to have too many quick changes for dancers.  Though now this movement has a new life as a concert piece, dance and movement are still its inspiration, and the restlessness of nostalgia its soul.  Movement IV. Unity, is based on an Iraqi line dance called Chobi. Though refugees often can carry very little with them when fleeing violence, they can carry knowledge and memories of song, dance, poetry and art.  This movement is an homage to both the things that are left behind and those can travel with us.

Despite having studied Monteverdi’s score to ll Combattimento closely, I decided not to use any themes from his music in my work. However, if some textures or moods from his beautiful score have made it into my music, any similarities are purely coincidental.

Kareem Roustom, February 12, 2021.