Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue2018-11-13T20:47:09+00:00

Instrumentation SSATBarB voices and piano trio (violin, violoncello and piano)

Timing 40′ in nine movements

Composed 2018

Poems by Michael Redhill

Commissioned by the Gryphon Trio in celebration of its 25th anniversary, for Nordic Voices and the Gryphon Trio, with assistance from the Sounds of Science Commissioning Club and the Canada Council for the Arts

World Premiere February 1, 2019, Dominion-Chalmers Church, Ottawa, Ontario. Nordic Voices and the Gryphon Trio

Programme Notes


Everything in life is in a process of change. Embracing change means embracing the possibility of disruption. When disruptions heal, they make scars. On a human level, there are emotional scars, physical scars, visible and invisible scars. There are scars in nature from a forest fire, an earthquake, a landslide, a flood. There are manufactured scars from clear-cutting, mining, war. No matter the cause, the resulting scar is the “new normal” where the healing moves us forward yet carries with it the memory of the past wound.

Scar Tissue for six voices and piano trio takes the listener on a journey from unity through disruption to healing. Michael Redhill’s concise and evocative poetry takes as its springboard the research of Dr. Glenn Prestwich, a researcher and scholar in the area of medical and biological engineering, and co-founder of the Sounds of Science Commissioning Club. Cast in nine movements, Redhill’s writing artfully blends emotion with science, assembling its DNA by bringing together his own words and the words of other poets to reflect the universality and interconnectedness of this journey. The music has its own parallel trajectory, beginning with the entire ensemble moving together (“This body and its grace of being”), then gradually separating into various combinations as growth (“Change is the nursery of music, joy, life and eternity”) leads to disturbance, wound, and a central movement of chaos (“A breach opens. In becomes out”). The debris clears in a moment of beauty for voices alone (“How we all swiftly unwrap our lives”). A “lost arpeggio” and “singing mouths” begin the process of recovery, summoning relicts of musics past. An unlikely lullaby (“Phosphatidylinostol is…like a music that plays under everything”) leads to the final movement that welcomes the “new normal” with an anthem of acceptance and celebration (“Eros comes nowhere near this bliss”). As the journey unfolds, voices and instruments weave together, separate, then recombine, beginning in joy and ending in a different joy.

We all carry scars, for in life we have all been wounded in some way. Scar Tissue evokes that process through words and music, ultimately leading the listener to a place of renewal and promise.

PDF score excerpts

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