Until a Reservoir No Longer Remains

for two cellos

Emma-Ruth Richards

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for two cellos

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Composer Emma-Ruth Richards
Year of Composition 2019
Duration ca.12'
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-err1uar1


In Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers, the shock of sudden bereavement for a father and his two young children places them in a numbed state, until the intervention of a winged creature, Crow.

[Crow] “I plucked one jet feather from my hood and left it on his forehead – for a souvenir, for a warning, for a lick of night in the morning. [ … ] He woke up and didn’t see me against the blackness of his trauma.”

Having read Porter’s book several times, I was gripped by his language in describing the sheer intensity of human grief and how the Crow ‘consumes’ grief: “We can do things other characters can’t, like eat sorrow.” This piece starts with an intense but hushed, contained, ‘scream’ as if it is trapped in the belly of the mind. The tension between the two cellos is paramount in depicting the sense of trauma being compressed into the smallest of places. It is forcibly contained until eventually something breaks, and the blackness is unleashed.

Grief can feel like a slow tightening around the chest and heart like the crushing coils of a constrictor, squeezing liquid from the eyes until a reservoir no longer remains. Having wept, a new state is reached.