Emergent for Flute and Electronics by George Lewis
Extended techniques required: molto vibrato; lip buzz; timbre trill; key clicks; jet whistle; tongue ram; various glissandi; inhalations and exhalations
Emergent was commissioned by the Pnea Foundation for flutist Claire Chase’s “Density 2036” – a 23-year project begun by her in 2014 to commission an entirely new body of repertory for solo flute each year until the 100th Anniversary of Edgard Varèse’s groundbreaking 1936 flute solo.
In the 10-minute piece the soloist is surrounded with multiple electronic doppelgangers. Written by Damon Holzborn, the Max patch transforming these invisible flutists from the soloist’s closely mic’d live performance into four-channel sound is available for download from the publisher with purchase of the score.
African-American composer George E. Lewis (b.1952) is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Genius Award (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Most recently Prof. Lewis received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University and became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2018).
In 2036, the flutist Claire Chase will give a 24-hour marathon performance of all the works she will, by then, have commissioned as part of “Density 2036.” This eye-poppingly ambitious centennial homage to Edgard Varèse’s pathbreaking 1936 flute solo, “Density 21.5,” will in the meantime result each year in an hourlong concert of new pieces for Ms. Chase’s instrument. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Judging by the second annual program, unveiled on Thursday at the Kitchen, these events won’t be your grandmother’s flute recitals… Besides Ms. Chase’s remarkably silky performance of the evening’s germinal Varèse classic, still elegant and fresh, best was George E. Lewis’s “Emergent.” It began with a shrieking dialogue between the flute and electronic sounds, which swiftly transformed into what sounded like — and also, oddly, very unlike — bird calls, before ending in a shivery, icy mood, as on a glacier or space station. It was music you could well imagine being played in 2036.
The New York Times
Emergent (2013), performed by Claire Chase (flute) and Levy Lorenzo (electronics), was commissioned for Chase’s Density 2036 project, a 23-year marathon to create a new body of work for solo flute. Here, the timbral versatility of the flute family and Chase’s complete command of this centuries-old instrument shine. A persistent opening motif shimmers in Chase’s effervescent high register; jet whistles and whimsical runs soon become fodder for the invisible beast–software. Lewis’ “doppelgängers,” electronic imitations of Chase, spring to life creating a dizzying funhouse effect.