Moonlit Dances (2015)

for flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, violin, guitar, and piano

Duration: 7 minutes
I wrote my Moonlit Dances to accompany a semi-staged presentation of Yiannis Ritsos’s poem The Moonlight Sonata. The poem is largely a monologue by an aging woman who is trying to recapture her youth by luring a young man to her side. At one point, she reflects upon the fate of a performing bear:

At times, when evening descends, I have the feeling
that outside the window the bear-keeper is going by with his old
heavy she-bear…
she’s grown heavy, can no longer dance on her hind legs…
all she wants is to lie down on the ground…
the bear gets up again and moves on…
smiling with torn lips at the pennies the beautiful and unsuspecting
children toss…
and saying thank you. Because bears that have grown old
can say only one thing: thank you; thank you.

The image of the dancing bear—an outward, compulsory joy belying inward suffering—inspired the framing movements of my suite. The middle movement is an interlude, reflecting upon the refrain that runs through the poem, words spoken by the old woman to the young man: “Let me come with you.”

Click here, here, and here to view videos of each movement

Premiere: Karlovassi, Samos, Greece — The Ritsos Project, July 2015 — Zach Sheets, flute; Sammy Lesnick, clarinet; Phil Pierick, saxophone; Hanna Hurwitz, violin; Josinaldo Costa, guitar; Daniel Pesca, piano