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A Dance to the Music of Time

Dedicated to Margo Halsted

Although inspired by the painting Il Ballo Della Vita Humana by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), there is no program for the piece. Elements in the picture are suggested in the music, and much of the expressive interpretation is left to the performer.

Poussin’s painting includes an amazing collection of classical references. So much so that The Wallace Collection, which houses the painting, has published a book on the subject. The composition largely overlooks this wealth for the simple reason that a piece of music must stand on its own feet. A listener who is passing a carillon during a concert is not likely to be able to read a program into the sounds being created.

However, the composer is well aware that musical structures are more available to the casual listener. The mixture of styles both backward and forward looking, the use of ancient dances like the pavan, the Dorian mode in Dance Episode 1, the furiously modern octotonic Dance Episode 4, and above all the use of variation form for the Pavana and Dance Episodes 1-3, should all be striking to the listener. These will not necessarily suggest the painting, but were certainly inspired by it.

The work was commissioned for performance on the two carillons of the University of Michigan. David M. Wu premiered the work at the 2002 Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) Ann Arbor Congress.

Code: KDMF

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