Aspects of the Hawk
for guitar & string trio
2002 | ca. 13 min.
 Composed with assistance from the Toronto Arts Council
f.p. 4 May/02, Toronto. toneART ensemble (Danielle Cumming (gtr.), Corey Gemmell (vn.), Katherine Rapoport (va.), Tom Mueller (vc.)
(excerpt from 2nd movement)
Aspects of the Hawk is in three movements, each reflecting a particular characteristic of this bird of prey.
The first is a lyrical and improvisatory guitar solo representing the solitary flight of the hawk. The strings offer soft and sustained accompaniment, representing silence, wind and earth. In the manner of a cadenza, this movement contains all of the principal musical material used throughout the piece.
The second movement, slow, represents the effortless hovering and circling of the hawk as he surveys the vast landscape below. Watching the bustling activity of unsuspecting earth dwelling creatures on the ground, he is patient, regal and timeless. This movement is the heart of the work. Throughout is the presence of a phrase by English Late-Renaissance composer John Dowland. At first the phrase is presented only as a solo line, gently repeated in the viola. Gradually it is compressed both by narrowing the interval range and by shortening the note values as it is passed throughout the quartet until it reaches its most compressed form. After a brief pause the Dowland phrase is revealed in its original version. This quote provides the material which concludes the movement.
The third movement, fast, represents both the hawk’s watchful eye as he chooses and tracks his prey, and the moment itself when he decides to kill. This movement had a working title which expresses in words, the essence of this finale. It is from the Ted Hughes poem, Hawk Roosting:
“For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living”