Solo Viola, Piano, and Strings


· Feel and Act ·

Compassion: 'to love together'. Feeling and concern for the misfortune of another; kindness that follows from need or distress born from a sense of interdependence and fairness.

With compassion comes empathy, forgiveness, and altruism.

This work supports The Rights of Living Things, a declaration of how we act towards one another.

I am witness to psychological, social, and physical trauma in my life, and in art. My capacity to feel aligned with another's suffering is a tool that motivates me to consider, act, and change.

The Music

My thoughts about the music 'Compassion' merely reflect my own responses to my choice of instrumentation, speed, rhythm, harmony and texture. Do not take from this that my views are right, they simply articulate my way of experiencing.

The viola has long been an instrument I have loved for its ability to convey warmth and emotion. The solo viola is present throughout the piece which begins in a romantic style with supporting strings and piano. As the theme returns, the piano begins to journey towards impressionistic tonalities and the music becomes more intensely expressive. After the piece briefly returns to its classical core a hint of jazz is introduced before closing with a more contemporary play of colour.

The differences in style reflect the importance I place of compassion in any period or place. The viola is the focus of my attention, the subject of my compassion. The piano represents my response to that which is in need of compassion. At times the viola and piano are in harmony, and at others they are dissonant. There is however always a willingness to be with. Before the pensive closure the viola and piano wrap one another with their rich and relaxed harmony and movement, a moment that shows compassion as an active and constructive quality of the heart.

The ending of the piece, while not a point of resolution, is for me a moment of relative peace as compared with the emotional intensity that characterizes much of the work.

The Artwork

Two figures one above the other, in contrasting gesture, appear as if behind a screen, their arms held wide and folded at the elbows, their hands splayed. Uncertain shapes linger in the background.

I consider the first figure above. Perhaps their gesture is to shield, perhaps to draw attention, perhaps they are calling to me. I am unsure whether the person is male, female, child or adult, naked or clothed.

I consider the second figure below, a mirror of the first, and yet as I view them both in the same upright orientation, this second form gestures as if embracing or holding something precious, their arms, held lower than the first.

My doubt of person and context gives me cause to return.

That figure one and figure two mirror one another visually is symbolic for me that they share the same in common. They are bonded, in many ways the same, and yet appear to feel and act so differently.

The image encourages me to consider how trust of personal consequence is often overridden by those with compassion as their sense of strength and calm prevails.

An extract from the full size artwork follows: