A Cellist Breaks Music Into ‘Fragments,’ Then Connects Them

For that reason, the lack of program notes — before the lights go dark, the audience will be given only the most basic information about the project, and the names of the composers they will hear — is a core part of “Fragments,” and a sign, its creators said, that, for all the deliberate, thoughtful artifice, the focus is on the music.

“To shed the Rorschach inclination towards finding meaning in the program before hearing the music was a really important piece of the puzzle,” Pulitzer said. “How many of us do that, where we look at the bio, we’re making assumptions about gender, race, nationality, compositional precedent, who where their teachers, and when were they born?”

The aim, she added, is to strip as much of that presumptive meaning as possible away, so that listeners can follow Weilerstein’s attempts to create new meaning in her musical quilts, and “dare to embark on this journey of not knowing, and allow it to be OK.”

For Shaw, that was part of the attraction of “Fragments,” beyond the obvious appeal of writing for a soloist whose visible commitment expresses such a clear love of music.

“Going to hear a concert and not looking at what’s on the program and not knowing what comes next — those have been some of my deepest and most revealing listening experiences,” Shaw said. “There’s also something beautiful and important about presenting different composers side by side, and behind a curtain, so that you’re not focusing on their name, or whether or not they’re Bach.”

The staging does offer some hints about the music, as if to hold the listener’s hand. Reiser’s set stays constant, a deconstructed theater arrayed so that it evokes soloists’ constant struggles to create “a room of one’s own” as they travel the world’s halls, Pulitzer said, and at the same time “reawakens the spaces for the people who are familiar with them.” Each composer has a specific lighting color, to give a sense of which fragments combine to make wholes.

Must Read

Related Articles