...a new, fresh, authentic voice.
— Janos Gereben, SF Classical Voice Clark Suprynowicz
Elegance and Superstition for string quartet
Elegance and Superstition is a piece that was born out of a musical gesture and a guiding principle. The gesture consists of two notes tossed upward, like balls into the air. There is a pause, and they are tossed again, this time a bit higher. The guiding principle is derived from something that composer Eve Beglerian said: “If you’re invited to do anything in contemporary composition, then why are people so often writing dense, angular music with grinding intervals? Why shouldn’t we have the freedom to write plain and lovely thirds and sixths?”
The title is from Artaud: “Our belief in systems is based on elegance and superstition.” This seemingly gnomic utterance is, for me, not only the sign of an original mind (I love the juxtaposition of two nouns rarely seen together). It is also, it seems to me, true. We are drawn to the elegance of systems that explain and guide our actions, despite evidence that these systems are deeply flawed, even that they may, at times, lead to the opposite of the desired result. Our persistent return to these systems seems to me a kind of superstition. The suggestion is that less systemic thinking may have better results. “Elegance and Superstition” responds to that idea. Themes recur, but the the spirit and structure of the piece is improvisatory.
The quartet was premiered in 2008 in Berkeley by Bill Barbini and the Ariel String Quartet. Franklyn D’Antonio, and the very fine musicians of the Eidolon Quartet, gave it a repeat performance the next year at the Crowden Music Center. It has since been to Hong-Kong as part of the “Hell-Hot Festival” on a program with music by the esteemed Tan Dun.