In her recent New York Times Opinionator essay, composer Lisa Bielawa reflects on how Lawrence Durrell’s writing helped to shape her ambitious “site-specific musical work,” Chance Encounter (2007):
Musical experiences that heighten a sense of a place can actually break through to that region of perception that transcends individual identity. Lawrence Durrell, whose views on the primacy of place in human experience were focused on his beloved city Alexandria, wrote in the novel Balthazar: “I see all of us not as men and women any longer, identities swollen with their acts of forgetfulness, follies, and deceits — but as beings unconsciously made part of place, buried to the waist among the ruins of a single city. . . .” I was reading Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet while composing Chance Encounter, and I was celebrating 15 years, and 14 apartments (in 4 boroughs!) as a New Yorker. He helped me realize that I was writing a set of love songs to the city where I had spent my entire adult life, the city that shaped my ideals concerning the interface between music and people. Durrell encouraged me to look around me, see where I am, and write exactly from there.
Read the entirety of Lisa Bielawa’s essay, “In Berlin, Moved by Music, Place and Memory,” here.
Chance Encounter has been recorded by The Knights and Susan Narucki for Orange Mountain Music (December 2010). Listen to the full production of Chance Encounter and purchase your own copy at Rhapsody.