With the weight of a tree at my back

This short, two-movement work came out of an earlier work for solo viola, Gaza Cantos, which was written after the in­va­sion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Defence Forces in December 2008. The title ref­er­ences Amir Nizar Zuabi’s play I am Yusuf and this is my brother, set be­fore and after ‘al Nakba’ in 1948. In one scene of this play, an old man stumbles on stage bearing a tree on his back, strug­gling under the weight. Having planted the tree and watched it grow, he cannot bear to leave it be­hind as he flees Israeli at­tacks — a vis­ceral and po­etic image of the up­rooting of lives by vi­ol­ence. As with Gaza Cantos, my in­ten­tion is not to cast judge­ment or even to cri­ti­cise — be­lieving there is no such thing as in­trins­ic­ally polit­ical music — rather to pro­voke con­tem­pla­tion and thought.

With the weight of a tree at my back was written for Jess Argall who premiered it in Falmouth, May 2011.

  • Instrumentation

    • Violin
  • Details

    • Duration: 8′
    • First performance: 24 May 2011, Jess Argall