Melbourne’s most sought after contemporary music ensemble, 3 Shades Black, made an incredible performance of Amy’s string quartet “Breathing Through A Hole” at Hamer Hall last Friday the 1st of February 2013. The concert was the first in the Riverside Live Program for 2013 and made a grand splash with a full audience eager to ask this “living composer” lots of questions about her piece. “Breathing Through A Hole” was originally written for the Australian String Quartet as part of the National Composers Forum. The piece explores the notion of suffocation. How much air do we need to survive? The piece makes use of strained harmonics, gasping for breath; close minor second intervals that confine our ears and continuously morphing harmonies that suggest escape, but take us nowhere. There are brief moments of respite, where the listener inhales soaring string solos and fills their lungs with ascending lines of passionate vibrato, but the momentary elation is soon stifled by the grip of harsh non vibrato lines. As the piece comes to an end, the remaining air is thin…the contrapuntal textures becoming faint and pale. Will the listener escape or will they be left breathing through a hole?
Here is a snippet from the concert at Hamer Hall on Friday:
…or why not listen to an extended version played by The Australian String Quartet.