In the Presence of Absence
In Memoriam Edward Said
About the work
A 36-minute staged performance for string ensemble, with electronic tape of exclusive recordings from piano recitals by Edward Said at the American University of Beyrouth and at Princeton University. The disembodied sounds of Said's performance are intertwined with live music performed by 4 musicians who are gathered around an empty piano, creating resonance and counterpoint to their playing and to their voices.
string ensemble, piano tape and electronics
The musicians are stationed around an empty piano that occupies center stage.
Several speakers are positioned on each corner of the stage. The piano tape that we hear throughout the piece is made of treated sounds of Edward Said's recordings, as well as a few of the key moments of his recorded speeches and lectures.
Electronics act as the bridge between Said's piano, reworked and spatialized on tape, and its live interaction with the written score, performed and embodied by the musicians on stage.
Date of composition:
ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker's musical world lies at the intersection of classical contemporary music, Jazz, Arabic Music, and improvisation. Her music, described as "entrancing", "innovative and vibrant", "pure poetry", and "gorgeous", defies genre while feeling perfectly at home in jazz, world, and classical festivals and series in major venues worldwide. As a violinist and composer, she has received commissions and presented performances and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America and Asia, as a soloist and with her ensemble Sarafand.
Layale released the album Inner Rhyme on In a Circle Records in 2019 with Sarafand. Dedicated to the sounds, rhythms, rhymes, shapes and forms of Arabic poetry, Inner Rhyme has been lauded by Songlines, NPR, the BBC Music Magazine, The New York Times, The Strad, Strings Magazine, and Jazz World, among others.