Salad Bar (2010) by Ellen Ruth Harrison
for viola and flute
World premiere

I. Pommerngarten
II. Gurkensalat nach "Hausfrauen Art"
III. Sechs-Kräutersalat
IV. Tomatensalat nach "Stettiner Art"
V. Löwenzahnsalat
VI. Küstenimpressionen

Several years ago I was at the Baltic Sea on a family vacation. We went out to eat one evening at an incredibly snooty restaurant. Snooty for no reason, however, because I've never had a worse meal. The menu, on the other hand, was pure poetry. Farbtupfer der Jahreszeiten, ein Genuss der Sinne describes the seasonal splashes of color that dot the countryside near the coast of the Baltic Sea. (While we were laughing about the circumstances of our meal, my husband suggested that I take a menu and use it for a piece. I looked around furtively, completely cowed by the arrogant staff, and slipped the best page from its heavy leather folder.) The items on this page served as a source of inspiration for Salad Bar. The coast at the Baltic Sea in Mecklenbery-Western Pomerania has a rather harsh climate. Waves batter the embankment mercilessly, and a raw wind blows at all times. It also blows briskly through several movements of Salad Bar: Pommerngarten (Pomeranian Garden), Sechs-Kräutersalat (Sixherb Salad), and Küstenimpressionen (Coastal Impressions). The other movements are less weather-related. Tomatensalat nach "Stettiner Art" (Tomato Salad, Szczecin Style) is a lament for the Jews deported from Szczecin, the first German Jews to be taken to concentration camps in Poland. Gurkensalat nach "Hausfrauen Art" (Cucumber Salad, Home Style) and Löwenzahnsalat (Dandelion Salad) take their cues from their ingredients. The first is crisp and pale, like a good cucumber should be. The second reels from one texture to another, a reflection of the jagged edges and bitter taste of dandelion leaves, and then lands in the wind on which the seeds float out to sea. Like at a salad bar, performers are free to pick and choose any number of movements and can play them in any order. Of course, like in any salad, it's all in the mix.

— E. H.    

[from program for March 19, 2012 concert]