Harold Meltzer (b. 1966) Aqua (2010-2011)

Harold Meltzer was born in Brooklyn in 1966, and now lives with his wife and children in Manhattan. Yet in his undergraduate years at Amherst College he developed a love of New England, and so has considered himself lucky in the last couple summers to get out of the city to be a resident composer at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference in Vermont, the Wellesley Composers Conference in Massachusetts, and the Seal Bay Festival in Maine. His current projects include a symphony for the Pittsburgh Symphony, a piano concerto for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and a series of song cycles for the tenor Paul Appleby; but he has been occupied mostly in the last several years with chamber music, much of which is inspired by architectural work. The first of these was Brion, a sextet that includes mandolin and guitar, a response to the Brion-Vega cemetery designed by Carlo Scarpa, and a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. The second is Aqua, and the third, Casa Battló, based on Antonio Gaudi, was composed for cellist Colin Carr and pianist Thomas Sauer. A fourth, based on the Glass House of Philip Johnson, is in development with guitarist Eliot Fisk. Each of these works tries to translate the experience of moving through and around the architectural spaces.

Harold Meltzer offers the following note for Aqua:

A Paul Goldberger piece in The New Yorker introduced me to architect Jeanne Gang’s mesmerizing Aqua Tower in Chicago. Goldberger begins his description: “Aqua—a new, eighty-two-story apartment tower in the center of Chicago—is made of the same tough, brawny materials as most skyscrapers: metal, concrete, and lots of glass. But the architect, Jeanne Gang, a forty-five-year-old Chicagoan, has figured out a way to give it soft, silky, lines, like draped fabric... You know this tower is huge and solid, but it feels malleable, its exterior pulsing with a gentle rhythm.” I collected photographs of the skyscraper, from different vantage points, in different light. And in April 2011, the quartet already well underway, I was in Chicago, walking around and around the building. The interconnected episodes of the string quartet work at replicating both the building’s rippling surface and its “brawny materials".