Skies of Ganymede (2010, rev. 2012)

Composed: Nov-Dec 2009 (1st mvmt), Jan-Apr 2009 (2nd mvmt), Jul-Nov 2010 (3rd mvmt)
Instrumentation/Voices: Two violas
Duration: 11 minutes (I: 3 minutes, II: 2 minutes, III: 6 minutes)
Other: 3 Movements: I: “Europa”, II: “Io”, III: “Callisto”
Performances: Three performances took place: March 19, 2012, University of Manitoba, Eva Clare Hall, Composers Concert Katherine Bonness (viola) and Sarah Carswell (viola); Sunday May 6, 2012, University of Manitioba, Eva Clare Hall, Katherine Bonness 3rd Year Viola Recital, Katherine Bonness (viola) and Sarah Carswell (viola); March 14, 2014, University of Manitioba, Eva Clare Hall, Michael Ducharme Graduation Composition Recital, Katherine Bonness (viola) and Sarah Carswell (viola).

Program Note:

“Skies of Ganymede” is a viola duo in three movements about the moons of Jupiter. If you were standing on Ganymede, you would see three moons in the sky. Each movement has the character of one of those moons.

The first movement is Europa. Europa is an ice moon. So it’s very cold, but it has a mysterious quality to it as well, due to the possibility that internal heating could make an undersea ocean possible, and therefore the possibility for life, so it has a mysterious quality. The quality of the cold and mysterious moon is created in the music through a slow, empty atmosphere with polymodal isorhythm.

The second movement, Io, is, like its namesake, very active. Io is so close to Jupiter that the tidal heating causes extreme volcanic activity, spewing sulfur high into space.

The third movement is titled Callisto. Callisto is further away from Jupiter and does not participate in the Laplace resonance with the other moons – a cold lifeless isolated rock. The music explores the psychology of the moon, as it starts off lonely and begins to go stir crazy and develop multiple personality disorder and the personalities begin to argue with each other. This argument is carried out by the violas and it builds up into a fugue.

The third movements ends with an Epilogue, which brings back a calmer tone and returns to the polymodal harmonic language from the first movement, bringing the series full circle.

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