On this coast without a sea
by Noah Luna
for string quartet and vocal quartet
On this coast without a sea was born of a fascination and love for Joe Bolton's poems about death, dying, and their unapologetic stance on how they might be a welcome end to a life "done lived."
This piece, built in four short movements on excerpts from four of Bolton's poems, scored for a quartet of strings and a quartet of voices, is a letter to his lost love, but also a sort of soliloquy as he resigns himself to his fate, brought on himself, and executed of his own volition.
The imagery of water, rain, drowning, and the omnipresence of the sea are recurring themes in his poems. These poems were chosen for their tone and theme: his voice heard most potent in the droplets of rain, the rush of the storm winds, and the crash of waves on the shore, represented in the relentless color of the harmony, the layering of string accompaniment, and the persistent echoes of themes throughout the work as it culminates in a resignation of sorts, but is not morose.
I want to thank the Friction Quartet for its constant support of my music, and to George Hopkins for his inspiration now and after he has passed on to traverse the greatest sea of the unknown.
About Joe Bolton:
He was born in Cadiz, Kentucky. He completed a master's degree at the University of Florida in 1988. In 1990, after completing his Master of Fine Arts, he committed suicide.
Bolton, in his work, seems to see the American century as nothing to celebrate, although he recognizes the fleeting beauty that enraptured John Keats—and with far less existential optimism. Although his methods, locales, and subjects seem almost bucolic at times, careful reading yields Bolton's sense of shame about American life, a sense that a minority of Americans, especially within the arts community, have shared since the Reagan years. Bolton's work is a grasping toward meaning and beauty in a society that traded meaningful beauty for posturing and empty style, much the way young Rimbaud recognized the inauthenticity of Napoleon III's France.
12/04/16 @ The Women's Building - premiere