Conversation with Mischa Zupko (Part 2)

Progress on Mischa Zupko's commission for Civitas Ensemble continues as composers and performers alike adjust to the "new normal" of classical music in the time of COVID-19. Mischa once again offered us insight into his compositional process, breaking down how the newfound quiet and turbulence of daily life influence his work:

"After living with this piece now for a couple of months, I’ve come to realize the potential of the initial stroke. What began as the sound of a heartbeat amidst the quiet of pandemic quarantining has evolved into the notion of freely passing time; time that knows no constant, but is continually subject to the machinations of the heart and how we perceive it. In our new normal, time flows some days as slowly as the sparse traffic on our empty streets while other days go by without notice of sunrise or set. Other days the rapid succession of events bring us to days end in a single beat and yet the mornings seems so far away. As this work has progressed, the “heartbeat” that began as a regular pulsing idea in the clarinet and violin continues to beat at the core, but is subject to the strange mutations of time as we now know it:

A pulse that gradually accelerates and then slows down.
Two individual pulses that accelerate, each at their own pace.
A song that emerges, free of the constraints of the pulsing in its vicinity. (Photos provided by the composer)

The separate strands of this pulsing framework diverge and converge again, giving the sense of becoming untethered and tethered again. But the heartbeat is always there and it holds us to the reality that we are alive and well and simply need to accept the turbulence. Although we generally desire the stability and calm of knowing what we are facing in any given situation, there is a freedom and beauty in not knowing."