Corner in Manhattan

Corner in Manhattan

Year: 2000

Heading: for string quartet (string quartet version) and for orchestra (orchestral version)

Movement Titles:
1. Sixth Ave. in the Afternoon
2. Bedford St. at Night
3. Houston St. in the Morning

First Performances:
string quartet:
13 February 2000
Kilbourne Hall, Rochester, New York
Ying Quartet

17 May 2000
Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Orchestra / Eiji Oue

string quartet:

orchestra: 4(IV=picc).3.corA.3.bcl.3.dbn 2bongos/tamb/cowbell/wdbl/sandpaper blks/susp.cym/tgl/crot/glsp/xyl/ marimbaharpstrings

Duration: 18'

A comparison with Gershwin's "American in Paris" is not a stretch, especially in the warm and melodious middle movement in which a lonely lover, roaming the sidewalks, gives way to thoughts of a troubled past. —St. Paul Pioneer Press

Downtown scenes are evoked in post-minimalist syncopations, lilting and jabbing; in songful outpourings to surprisingly romantic harmonies; and in a finale setting quiet drones against jiggles and jagged jitters. Dallas News

The audience so liked the first movement that it broke out into spontaneous would have been nice if the Jupiters (Jupiter String Quartet) had encored that movement. —D Rubin

Program Note:
The corner in Manhattan that the title refers is a three-way intersection where I live. It is an interesting area of downtown since it is at the border of Soho and Greenwich Village. Sixth Ave., a main thoroughfare, flows one way going north, and is the most efficient way of getting uptown. Bedford St. is an intimate side street that slants to the northwest, and has more of a village feel to it. Houston St. is unfortunately the only way for commercial traffic to get to the West Side Highway and the Holland Tunnel, and is usually jammed with clogged traffic.

The piece is in three movements; each movement title is followed by a programmatic description:

   1. Sixth Ave. in the Afternoon
Sun is reflected off the windshields of traffic as it rushes past in groups. Snow melts by the curbs. Some pedestrians have smiles as they wait for the walk signal to change; others grimace when passing tires spray slush. Occasionally taxi cabs honk their horns, and wheel around stalled traffic.

   2. Bedford St. at Night
A few street lamps light the way along the narrow street. A lonely person makes his way to rent a video and get Chinese takeout. Thoughts of a departed girlfriend intrude, unwanted.

   3. Houston St. in the Morning
Underneath the window of a sleeping person cars and trucks stop and start. The constant, irregular noise is at first taunting and irritating, but then inspires the day to begin. Coffee brews; overnight faxes are gathered.