by Brendon Randall Myers
for string quartet
I’ve always been fascinated by people that push against their own physical limitations, whether it’s bodybuilders, marathoners, people with eating disorders, or concert violinists and metal drummers. There’s something magical and exciting about transforming your body into something better, but also something grotesque and terrifying about the things people do to actually accomplish that. Such frightening activities include running 140 miles a week, throwing up your dinner, taking steroids, or practicing for 10 hours a day.
My piece Juiced responds to this attempted pursuit of physical perfection. I tried to channel the moments of performance (whether musical or athletic) where one is moving very quickly, but time seems to slow down. I also tried to write music near the edge of what the performers can do both as individuals and as an ensemble. The quartet plays a LOT of notes, and also plays extremely tricky rhythms in complete unison throughout a large part of the piece. Many passages are written with the knowledge that they are essentially impossible to play perfectly.
It’s tough, because as performers we spend so much time trying to sound good, to look good, to control our bodies. But that control is fleeting in the best cases: we and our bodies will all fail in one way or another eventually. However, striving for perfection even when we know it isn’t possible is part of what makes us human, and for me, is thrilling to watch.
12/01/14 @ Center for New Music - premiere
12/05/14 @ Cornish College
04/21/16 @ Cornish College
04/23/16 @ Western Washington University