Cuates - for two Violins
Twins run in my family. Just over thirty years ago one of my earliest memories was me in the hospital, waiting for my twin sisters to arrive. My memory is hazy since I was only three, but I remember a bright light and two tiny girls, not quite five pounds each, wrapped up in front of me. Excited to have siblings, I leaned over their crib and sang them happy birthday, much to the surprise of my parents. As parents of twins will tell you, they can be a lot of fun, but also quite exhausting. My parents used to dress them alike, but pretty quickly it became apparent that they were individuals with their own minds. One twin was shy and refused to walk unless her hand was held, the other would run head first up and down stairs. Though they are fraternal, they looked so similar that most people outside of the family couldn’t tell them apart until they were in middle school. One became fascinated with fashion while the other trained as an athlete. By high school they had their own friend circles and activities that were completely distinct, yet they were always grouped together as twins for better or for worse.
They’ve had deep disagreements on account of the lack of space they were given compared to other siblings, but through it all they’ve only managed to keep a close relationship even when their careers and lives took them to different parts of the country. Early in 2020 we found out one was expecting, and then a month later the other! By the end of 2020 they each delivered healthy babies and now share a deeper bond than ever before.
The two violins represent my two sisters, equal in timbre and ability, yet they manage to both play nicely together and disagree when the time is right, propelling the piece forward to new places with the same basic building blocks. Each violin part shares a lot of material with the other, yet they rarely exactly align or agree on what they should do with that material. There are constant interruptions, sudden shifts, and stubborn obsessions with a refusal to budge, yet throughout the work they ultimately come together. The piece starts off with an abundance of syncopation, constantly obscuring a regular pulse, and ends with them playing together in regular time. There isn’t much room for resting or breathing, but there is plenty of room for growth and exploration.
I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Gabriela Lena Frank and Lucia Lin for inviting me to participate in this commission, and to Shaw Pong Liu for joining Luci with such enthusiasm.