Tounen (2022) by Hendel Almétus
for flute
World premiere; Earplay commission

The challenges of the past few years, including the universal awakening of our consciousness to social justice following the death of George Floyd, invoked in me a deep desire for wholeness and righteousness in our interaction with each other and a longing for a place free of oppression and ruled by the comprehension of our true self and our shared humanity. The intensity of the desire encouraged me to paint musically in Tounen this perfect place built on equity and justice, that treasures differences and diversity. The objects at my disposal are short musical gestures built on an hexachordally derived collection of pitches that are then repartitioned into tetrachords. These tetrachords form the background structure of the piece and at key moments they gradually become clearer at the surface. The gestures they generate are very diverse and of various timbral quality interacting in a nonlinear and non-teleological musical space. I juxtaposed the melodic gestures to build a three-layered structure: high-medium-low. Each layer is defined by timbre, pitch content, and texture. Though seemingly unrelated, and devoid of any sense of goal-oriented motion, they intend to allude to the eternal bliss of timelessness inherent in their interaction and perception. Rhythmically the melodic gestures are built on concepts reminiscent of my childhood and hence the term Tounen as the title of the piece, which also represents to me a call to return to my Haitian roots and the cultural values that partly define who I am. The set of common threads in multiple dimensions unifies the entire structure, generates the objects, and supports their differences at the surface. The perception of the resulting objects enlightens their source of origin and the symbiotic association in their relational dance both at the surface and the background. The hope is that dwelling in the intrinsic meaning of the piece, one can truly experience wholeness, balance, and the deep bond of unity among the vastly different objects in this perfect place I paint in Tounen.

— H. A.    

[from program for January 23, 2023 concert]