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HOPE CYCLES (string quartet no. 2)

for string quartet

Duration:

24 minutes
 

Instrumentation:   

violins (2); viola and cello

Year Composed:  

2004
 

Written For:            
Borromeo String Quartet

Commissioned By:

Koussevitzky Music Foundation
for the Borromeo String Quartet

Premiere Performance:

Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival

The Borromeo String Quartet:
Nicholas Kitchenm violin
Kristopher Tong, violin
Mai Motobuchi, viola
Yeesun Kim, cello

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Program Notes:


String Quartet No. 2 – “Hope Cycles,” in one movement, focuses on the endless conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East from the perspective of ordinary individuals. As an Israeli myself, I often struggle to convey to European/American audiences the true tragedy: that of the individual person, rather than the sanitized images often presented in the media.

The music captures feelings of fear, hate, anger, love, remorse, and the claustrophobia and uncertainty of living under daily threat, regardless of one's affiliation. I believe that hope for a genuine peaceful resolution and a better life is what sustains people in such circumstances. Yet, between moments of hope, reality intrudes once more, with more innocent victims and shattered families, most of whose stories never reach the international media, which seems to prioritize only large-scale tragedies.

The viola symbolizes such an individual confronting the harsh realities of life. The quartet comprises interconnected sections that depict the brutal fate faced and the resignation to it as a natural aspect of existence. It portrays emotional turbulence, instability, conflict, lamentation, detachment, hope, disillusionment, farewell, and the cyclical nature of destiny, moving on to claim the next victim.

Throughout the quartet, there are several short thematic fragments and motifs that recur in various iterations to evoke heightened emotional responses toward the conclusion. Some of these motifs draw from the half scale of the Arabic “Maqam Hijaz” and snippets of Jewish music, which, ironically, share both auditory and historical connections. Despite the charged subject matter, I have chosen to temper the emotional expression, maintaining a somewhat restrained demeanor throughout, punctuated only by occasional bursts of emotion, as if the audience were observing the events from a removed, filtered perspective.

String Quartet No. 2 – “Hope Cycles” was composed for the Borromeo String Quartet, commissioned by The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress, and is dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky.

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Lior Navok is a self-published composer.
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