Stigmata (2004) by Vincent Chee-Yung Ho
for cello
2004 Earplay Donald Aird Composers Competition winner

[From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:]
Stigmata — 2 a stigmata, plural:
bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy.

A question once posed by a painter — "Which is harder: painting a person who is fully clothed, or painting a nude?" — made me ponder on the difficulties a composer confronts when writing for a solo instrument. For unlike an orchestra or a chamber ensemble, a soloist is limited in sound and texture. Thus, what is lost in volume and density must be compensated by the degree of musical expression. This issue became somewhat of an obsession for me when I began writing this piece. And because I was writing for a particular performer(cello virtuoso Jakub Omsky), I made it my goal to write something that would allow him to convey his personal thoughts and emotions. This was a new challenge for me: to compose a work that would expose the performer’s soul! So daunting this task was that I ended up making four re-writes before I was satisfied with the ideas I wanted to work with. In the end, the piece became a reflective work that drifts through moments of loneliness and desolation. Various pitch-bend techniques are organically built into the thematic material to convey expressive gestures (analogous to sighs, wails, etc). The piece concludes with a prayer-like section.

— V. C.-Y. H.    

[from program for March 14, 2005 concert]