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  • All Round Me (1997/2004) was written for choreographer/dancer Andrea Beckham, of the Sharir Dance Company. The piece is in six movements, entitled All Round Me, Cool Mist, Sudden Rain, Tree Colors Darkening, The Monastery, and A Bonging of Bells. The underlying theme of the entire piece is one of spirituality, and in particular, the idea the the living are surrounded by the spirits of the dead. The titles of the movements, as well as the text in the middle sections, are derived from C. H. Kwock and Vincent McHugh’s translation of the ancient (Ming Dynasty) poem by Ni Chia-Ch’ing, called “Sudden Rain.”

    All of a sudden


    brooks roaring.

    Mist cool

    tree colors darkening

    I don’t know where the monastery is

    until suddenly

    it sends out

    a bonging of bells

    all round me

    English Translation Copyright (c) 1980 C.H. Kwock and Vincent McHugh, used by permission.

    The original version of this piece utilized a different text for the opening section, All Round Me. However, in the years since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, I have come to feel more and more strongly that the thousands of innocent people who perished on that unforgettable day are still very much a presence in our lives, that their spirits (and/or our indelible memories of what happened to them) surround us in the very way that this piece is trying to suggest. Hence, I decided to replace the original text with the whispered names of the nearly 3000 people who died at the World Trade Center. The names were randomly selected from the list posted online by CNN, individually recorded, and then made into a gradually thickening texture using additional random processing. In performance, the music is controlled by software written in Max/MSP, which interprets signals coming from a touch-sensitive dance floor and a video tracking system, and reacts to them in various ways, generating and/or controlling both music and video images. Consequently, no two performances are exactly the same, and different names will be selected each time.

  • Included on Centaur CRC 2764 CDCM Computer Music Series, Volume 34. Russell Pinkston: Four Electroacoustic Dance Suites.