On the Verge (2013)

Composed for the Kubrick Quartet

The titles of the six movements of On the Verge are phrases from English translations of death haiku that I picked out from Yoel Hoffman’s 1986 anthology, Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death. I was inspired by the elegance of the words and the brevity and succinctness of the haiku form, and equally, by the air that pervades the poems of quiet acceptance of death as a natural inevitability.

I made an active effort not to make the piece about death as an immediate, special event. There is no reference to it anywhere in the piece, except in the sixth movement. With that exception, each of the movements is very brief, perhaps feeling as if it is on the verge of blossoming into something bigger, but instead fades away.

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello

Duration: 19 minutes

Premiere: April 30, 2013, Cohen-Davison Family Theatre, Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD • Kubrick Quartet: Orin Laursen and Alan Choo, violins; Dian Zhang, viola; Javier Iglesias, cello