Nadiya (2017) by Reena Esmail
for flute and viola

Nadiya means "rivers" in Hindi. In this work, I imagine two different streams intersecting—pushing and pulling against one another, tripping over each other, flowing into each other to create mellifluous, cascading melodies. The piece is in a composite of two Hindustani raags: Jog and Vachaspati—both have a light and a dark side, and they intermingle to create a luminous surface texture that twists and turns as it finds new points of resonance.

In my experience, Hindustani melody has a much more horizontal feel about it than Western melody does. Hindustani musicians are almost always playing off an explicit percussion instrument, so their job is not to purvey the beat, but rather to provide a counterpoint to it. In this case, the two instruments play off one another. The phrases should feel like they interrupt one another, and that they overlap and intersect with the intuition of a deeply engaged conversation, rather than aligning specifically as they are written.

This piece requires a great deal of trust. It's about how far you can push and pull the phrases with your partner. Often, different interpretations vary in length by 2-3 minutes—as they should. The piece is designed to be flexible and malleable as you explore a relationship that is constantly in flux.

— R. E.    

[from program for May 9, 2022 concert]