Object Permanence

A basic concept, most frequently invoked when speaking of developmental milestone for infants and other young creatures. The exact definition itself, however, inspires a great deal more mystery: object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way).

This “understanding” is deeply complex, and in fact forms the foundation for the totality of our engagement as discrete beings with both the physical and social universe. We all wield an abstract, immaterial form of object permanence. For instance, we know that gravity exists and will always pull us to the ground, even if we cannot consciously sense it; social codes and cultural norms govern our behavior, despite their invisibility; or, that during the composition of a violin concerto the canon of such historical works is omnipresent in the mind’s eye.

It was partially with this understanding that I composed this piece, together with a deconstruction of the relationship between soloist and accompaniment. Using varied sources, from pop stars like Ke$ha and Drake, to summer blockbusters or Mozart violin concerti, I took both figurative and literal inspiration from sampling other prominent “soloists”. The materials from such moments were then woven into an existing musical fabric, or else became the supports on which longer segments were constructed.

In Object Permanence, our continuously present object is the abstract concept of the star performer. It materializes in strikingly different iterations throughout the work, during which one has to have faith that it is is always there, even when you cannot hear it.

PREMIERE November 6, 2014. Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal. Andréa Tyniec, solo violin, Véronique Lacroix, conductor.
LOCATION The Banff Centre, Alberta
PERSONNEL Flute, B-flat/Bass clarinet, Horn in F, Percussion, Piano, Solo Violin, Violin, Viola and Violoncello.