Stabat Mater Dolorosa (2010)
My Stabat Mater is a very simply-constructed piece of music. I knew I wanted to write a duet, a piece of religious music, and something to go along with a bit of Birtwistle. My initial instinct was to base the piece on drones, as Birtwistle’s music has so very many notes, but then I decided that an austere but ecstatic approach was the best to fill a coherent evening. I asked my friend Craig Lucas to paraphrase the Stabat Mater text—which describes the Virgin Mary weeping at the foot of the cross on which her son is crucified. The piece is organized by separating each phrase of the text with a moment of silence, with the exception of the last three, which are joined with a frenzied chorale with improvised dynamics from the harp, winds and strings.