Harmony for string quartet

Composer: Zhou Long (b. 1953)
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Composer: Zhou Long (b. 1953)

Performance date: 06/07/2002

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 2002

Duration: 00:18:15

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Commission: Commissioned by West Cork Chamber Music Festival with support of The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon

Artists: RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins], Simon Aspell [viola], Christopher Marwood [cello]) - [quartet]

In Chinese characters, the word
harmony is composed of two parts. The first part comes from the ancient symbol
for grain or a grain plant. The second part comes from the symbol for mouth.
Together they conceptualise the idea that grain is pleasing to the mouth and
essential to the body, producing a natural harmony. The combination of these
characters also implies increased awareness on a physical, mental and spiritual
level. I believe that when one’s own personal awareness of these areas is
cultivated first from within, it then will reflect out in our relationships
with all people, the planet, and the universe. Ancient Chinese philosophy
teaches that through proper behaviour — exercise, diet, breathing, meditation,
and positive mental attitude — we can acquire physical, mental, and spiritual
well-being. This can be summarized in the three harmonic principals: Peace —
Light — Love.


Harmony for string quartet
consists of three movements. The first movement starts with a vigorous 5-note
chromatic motive, followed by a peaceful harmonic section that gradually
develops into a multi-layered chant-like theme. This theme becomes more
energetic and rhythmic, moving towards a climax that resolves peacefully. The
second movement is slow and meditative with interweaving tonal melodies. The
third movement returns to the opening chromatic motive, slightly altered and
played prestissimo. This motive is contrasted with a more peaceful melody based
on the traditional Shanxi folk song, Leaving Home. Gradually, the folk song
melody merges with the rhythmic energy of the chromatic motive bringing the
quartet to a vibrant, prestissimo conclusion.