On That Day (1991) by Tamar Diesendruck
for violin, cello, and piano

On That Day was written more than half of my composing life ago. My concerns were different then. It's strange to think of people hearing it now as a representation of my work. I remain fond of it, and am always glad to have it performed, and thank the players of Earplay for their performance.

The longer I compose, the more I find program notes problematic. I'm sure there are multiple paths through my pieces, and perhaps other narratives as reasonable as my own to create verbal coherence. If the listener prefers to avoid or ignore what follows or simply to read it after hearing the piece in order to have an experience based purely on sound, I understand and often do so myself. For those who find notes useful and interesting, I am happy to provide the original note as context for what you will hear.

On That Day is the third in a group of five related pieces called Theater of the Ear; each work in the group can also be heard alone. The pieces follow very different designs and have very different surfaces, but all are related to the story of the Tower of Babel. In the group of pieces that make up Theater of the Ear, On That Day provides a breather between thorny, dense, kaleidoscopic works. However, On That Day is a tour de force piece for the musicians: the players have completely equal voices in an energetic, fast asymmetrical rhythmic grid of 21 beats. In this dizzying canonic texture they weave their melodies in a joyful spiral of sound until...

The biblical story provides the scenario:

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. ... they said, "Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower... and make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered..." And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower... and the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

On That Day was commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players and premiered by the Stony Brook Trio on the Six American Premieres concert in April 1991 at Merkin Concert Hall, New York City. It has had numerous performances since then, and has been recorded by the Lions Gate Trio on Centaur Records.

— T. D.    

[from program for February 10, 2014 concert]