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String quartet : an AIDS activist's memoir in music : string quartet

by Lyle Chan (2014)

String quartet


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Work Overview

"In the years 1991-1996 I was an AIDS activist. Those years were the height of the epidemic, but also the journey to the crisis' end. I saw AIDS transformed from a frightening, near-universally fatal illness to what it is today, a chronic manageable condition. This transformation took place within a mere two decades of identifying HIV. In the history of medicine, there had never been progress made at such speed with a disease that was, frankly, so paralyzingly dazzling in its complexity.During those years, I'd given up music to be an activist. But a composer is always a composer. I did sketch a lot of music. The music were my diaries, a way of writing down feelings. As a composer I think of music as the sound that feelings make. Some twenty years after these events, I started turning the sketches into performable pieces of music, a process I imagine is the same as when someone turns diary entries into a memoir. Strictly speaking, the work is not what's called program music, or music that depicts events or a narrative. Every now and there, there is some overt representation (the police whistles, for instance) but mostly it is music that I wrote when I was reflecting on the day's events or even music to comfort myself. The best way to describe the music is to say it's what got written at the time all these things were happening." -- from the introduction by the composer

Work Details

Year: 2014

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 87 min.

Contents note: In September the Light Changes -- ACT UP, Part 1 -- ACT UP, Part 2 -- Dextran Man, Part 1 -- Mark and Adrian Are Her Sons, Parts 1-3 -- Dextran Man, Part 2 -- Et Tu Bruce -- Night Vigil -- After Night Vigil -- Dextran Man, Part 3 -- Tony-ony Macaroni, Parts 1-2 -- Don't Leave Me This Way -- Towards Elysium -- Fairy Tale Ending.

First performance: by Acacia Quartet at Lyle Chan – String Quartet (Eugene Goossens Hall) on 18 Jul 2014


Resonate article: An AIDS Activist's Memoir in Music by Lyle Chan

Performances of this work

24 Jun 16: Queer Arts Festival, Roundhouse Centre, Vancouver, Canada. Featuring Acacia Quartet, Lyle Chan.

19 Sep 2014: at Bellingen Music Festival 2014 (Bellingen Memorial Hall). Featuring Acacia Quartet.

24 Jul 2014: at Lyle Chan – String Quartet: An AIDS Activist's Memoir in Music (Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Acacia Quartet.

18 Jul 2014: at Lyle Chan – String Quartet (Eugene Goossens Hall). Featuring Acacia Quartet.

5 Jul 2014: at Lyle Chan – String Quartet (Sandgate Town Hall). Featuring Acacia Quartet.

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