A Year to the Day

music by Lembit Beecher, lyrics and concept by Mark Campbell

1. Exquisitely Fragile (solo violin)
2. I Wait
3. Tender and Fragile (solo violin)
4. Like That
5. Lilting but Ungrounded, with Fierce Interruptions (solo violin)
6. Practice
7. Full of Care and Rubato (violin and cello duet)
8. Mrs. Hoffman
9. Adrift (solo violin)
10. Ghostlit
11.  A Year to the Day

tenor, violin, cello and piano

duration: 50 Minutes

“A Year to the Day” was written for tenor Nicholas Phan, violinist Augustin Hadelich, cellist Karen Ouzounian and pianist Orion Weiss, for a video premiere on the Violin Channel on October 7, 2022, with generous support from the Alphadyne Foundation.

Many thanks to Geoffrey John Davies and The Violin Channel, The Alphadyne Foundation, and On Site Opera for making this work possible.

Composer’s Note:

This is a piece about a singer’s relationship to music and the way that relationship, both personal and professional, is tested by the pandemic. Though the onset of the pandemic is the instigating narrative event of the song cycle. and though at the center of the cycle is the question of what we do and who we become as performing artists when the act that defines so much of our lives, performing, is taken away, the cycle does not focus on the pandemic but rather on an artist’s complicated love of music.

The cycle is written for tenor and piano trio, with the violin representing the soul or spirit of music. The six songs alternate with instrumental movements, mostly for solo violin. In writing these instrumental interludes I wanted to channel the things that from a young age drew me to music: moments of intense beauty, fiery virtuosity, generosity, soulful melancholy, a feeling of warmth and joy, and a sense of communication on a deep level. In particular, I thought of my brother, a few years older than I was, practicing violin in the room next to mine as I fell asleep. And as I wrote, another emotion entered the music as well: a deep sense of anger at the pandemic and the failure of our institutions, systems, and leaders. 

The cycle as a whole is filled with musical quotes and references: in particular references to the piano music I grew up playing are scattered throughout the song “Mrs. Hoffman,” about the protagonists first piano teacher, and the John Dowland song “Time Stands Still” occupies an important role in the final song. (This was a song that tenor Nicholas Phan found particularly important for him during the pandemic). For most of the pandemic, I had weekly zoom calls with a close group of musician friends, mostly string players. We supported each other through ups and downs, became closer than we ever had been, and talked a lot about music and its role in our lives. Though at times we were lost and searching, though some of us were reinventing our professional relationship to music, a love of music and making music together burned in each of us, and I hope that spirit comes through in the cycle.