Urman (Forest) - 2020
For Solo Violin
Commissioned by Arco Collaborative for “Alone Together”.
Premiered on April 18, 2020 by Jennifer Koh.
Urman starts at 04:45, ends at 07:25.
Urman was written at the beginning of the pandemic. At this time I was struggling with the ability to focus because of anxiety. I worried about my family, and I didn’t know when I would be able to see them again in person.
The piece is about creating solutions through limitations. I composed this piece using a borrowed violin that didn’t have a 4th or a 1st string; I only had II and III. I thought this limitation could be an interesting source for creativity.
Urman means “forest” in Tatar, my native language. When writing, I mentally went to the places where I used to go with my family, to the quiet, green woods around the city where we lived in Tatarstan, and heard the soothing sounds of birds. My musical ideas are really short, just some bird calls, different sounds of nature, such as nature, a drop, and unidentifiable, distant sounds. Because it was such a challenge to focus on big things, I explored evocative, tiny sounds. I’m very thankful for this project, which helped me to forget my anxiety for some moments, and listen to these tiny sounds, these little phrases, and try to meditate on them.