Prayers for a Feverish Planet

Perforation (2018) – Alex Burtzos (United States)

Perforation was inspired by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s poem “Rabbit Hole” (2018), which includes the following lines:

Holding your mother’s hand
while she is dying is like trying to love
the very thing that will kill you.

The climate disaster we’re living through reminds me very much of the loss of a parent. We are being forced to say goodbye to the world we thought we knew and staring down an uncertain future without many of the earth’s customary protections. The composition strives to capture something of this feeling, on a scale that is personal and intimate.

Ann adds: Initially I chose this work because of the idea of “perforation” — of something being punctured, no longer intact. It made me think of the ozone layer (not something we hear so much about nowadays), but beyond that, how it can be extended to other facets of the environment — glaciers and ice shelves, for instance. The rhythmic pattern of the left hand sounds, to me, like a heartbeat; there’s more than one piece in the series in which a heartbeat appears. The heartbeat motive is interspersed with sections that seem to me very dreamlike — whole-tone scales and long pedals with ppp dynamics all combine to evoke, for me, the idea of remembering a distant past. On a more personal note, the piece has a lot more resonance practicing it in the weeks leading up to and following my father’s death.

Alex Burtzos

Alex Burtzos is an American composer and conductor based in New York City and Orlando, FL.  His music has been performed across four continents.  Alex has collaborated with some of the world’s foremost contemporary musicians and ensembles, including JACK Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Contemporaneous, ETHEL, loadbang, Jenny Lin, RighteousGIRLS, and many others.  He is the founder and artistic director of ICEBERG New Music, a New York-based composers’ collective, and the conductor of the hip-hop/classical chamber orchestra ShoutHouse.

As a composer, Alex is committed to pursuing artistic expression unconstrained by boundaries of school or style.  His work often incorporates elements of the 20th Century avant-garde, jazz, rock, metal, and hip-hop alongside or against classical/preclassical structures and sounds, justifying these juxtapositions with a great depth of musical ideas and extra-musical knowledge.  Alex’s music takes as its basis and provides commentary on a diverse array of subject matter, from early colonial history to recent events, from Shakespeare’s tragedies to naughty text messages.  His unique approach has earned him accolades and awards from organizations around the world.

Alex holds a DMA from Manhattan School of Music, where his primary teachers were Reiko Fueting and Mark Stambaugh.  He serves as Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Central Florida.  

Alex Burtzos