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It's a long way to go, Habibi

It's a long way to go, Habibi is written for piano trio and off-stage percussion, the latter of which is required to move between three different positions surrounding the audience.

One of the starting points of this piece was a reading of ‘The Boy from Aleppo who Painted the War’ by Sumia Sukkar. The novel tells the tragic story of a family living in Aleppo during the recent civil war who are eventually forced to leave their home for the safety of Damascus. Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of this book is that the majority of the narrative is told from the perspective of a fourteen year old boy, Adam, with Asperger’s Syndrome. This results in the reader rarely being told any explicit causes for the multiple horrors that the family endure with the narration largely revolving around changes to the family members themselves as perceived by Adam. Thus, an enormous dislocation between the local events of the book and the larger context of the civil war is created, forcing the reader to reconstruct the narrative with knowledge of contemporary events in Syria today.

It’s a long way to go, Habibi takes ‘migration’ as its central theme, and as influenced by Sukkar’s book, attempts to fragment the relationship between cause and effect. It is therefore to this latter end that the relationship between the piano trio and the off-stage percussion may be understood. In terms of migration, I was interested in interpreting the theme on several levels. Most immediately, migration manifests itself literally through the spatial use of the percussion as the percussionist is instructed to play from and between three ‘stations’. Secondly, the emotional story of migration as told by Sukkar affected the overall character of this work, and in particular the use of melodic cells and their fragmentation/(re)construction. Lastly, migration, with its emphasis on destination, was considered for its structural implications on notions of (the lack of) closure and teleology.

You may also be interested in Echoes.

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Piano Trio and Percussion

Percussion: Xylophone, Vibraphone, x1 Timp., Bass Drum, Tam-tam, Temple Blocks, Tambourine, Triangle, Suspended cymbal, Cymbal

Duration: 10'

Premiered by: Ensemble Paramirabo at Domaine Forget Academy, Quebec, Canada

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