The first movement of Visions of the Anointed, "New Vision," is a dense conversation among the quartet. In a complete musical turn-around from the first movement, the next movement, "Isadora: Dance!" comes bounding on the listener with lively strumming (complete with guitar-style picking) and open string strumming, giving the feelings of body movement, gyrations, jumping, and leaping. On a more personal level, I wrote the next movement after Edgar Allan Poe, with whom I closely identify. The fourth movement is a virtuosic blast.
Genre: String Quartet | # of Players: 4
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 30:00
Commissioned by The Harrington String Quartet of West Texas A & M University and The Amarillo Symphony. The title comes from the book of the same name by Thomas Sowell.
The quartet is named after the book "The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy" by Thomas Sowell, The Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.
The "Anointed," in this case, are four great American creators: An author, a dancer, a poet, and a rock guitarist. All these artists hold a special fascination for me as entrepreneurs of thought and creativity.
The first movement, "New Vision," is dedicated to economist and social philosopher, Thomas Sowell (Ph.D., The University of Chicago). Sowell, reviled by the intellectual "elite," is definitely "off-the-plantation" when it comes to "politically correct" thinking. An African-American, Dr. Sowell challenges much of the excepted academic views of politics and society. The musical language of the movement is a dense conversation among the quartet. The high degree of rhythmic stratification features the fingered tremolo and the trill, which later becomes written in measured figures. The large, multi-sectional form of the movement provides for moments of lyric melodicism amidst the relatively dissonant and rhythmic tumultuous sections of serious political arguments.
In a complete musical turn-around from the first movement, the next movement, "Isadora: Dance!" comes bounding on the listener with lively strumming (complete with guitar-style picking) and open string strumming. The early 20th century Dancer, adventurer, and revolutionist, Isadora Duncan was credited with inventing what was later to be know as "Modern Dance." Her style of dance and choreography included free and natural movements inspired by the classical Greek arts, folk dances, American athleticism which included skipping, running, jumping, leaping, tossing. So this movement abounds with rhythm unrestricted by predictable metric parameters. The rhythms give the feelings of body movement, gyrations, jumping, and leaping.
On a more personal level, I wrote the next movement after Edgar Allan Poe, with whom I closely identify. Poe led a strange life, feeling different and isolated from humanity. Much of his writings are fixated on the Macomb due to several deaths of loved ones and his inability to let go of them. In a particularly dark period of his life, he wrote the poem, "Alone," which has haunted me since I read it. The opening reads:
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
The fourth movement is a virtuosic blast. When it came to the writing of this final movement, I was at the end of three commissions from The Harrington Quartet--and, out of ideas. In my travels, I love to listen to old rock and roll recordings--not the least of which is Led Zeppelin. When I was a kid in Junior High School, and a classically trained pianist and trumpet player, I would sneak on my head phones and blast Led Zeppelin I and II through my head phones, learning to play electric bass along with the tunes on these albums. My favorite was a tune on Led Zeppelin II, "Heartbreaker." The most unusual thing on "heartbreaker" was the guitar cadenza taken in the middle of the tune by rock guitar legend Jimmy Page--hence, the title, "Turn The Page."
I had never heard anything like it--it was like a violin cadenza in a Mendelssohn Violin Concerto; metrically free, virtuosic, and exiting. During this period of time I was contemplating how I was going to finish Visions of the Anointed, I woke up one night thinking of this Jimmy Page cadenza and the idea came to me to base the last movement on this solo. So various gestures and lines from this solo are transcribed and taken into far-reaching variations for The Harrington String Quartet as they Turn The Page!
- Daniel McCarthy