"Kolmanskop" 2016


3333 - 4321 - 3Perc - Hrp - Pno/Cel - Str

The Work

Kolmanskop is a ghost town, located in a desert near the coast of Namibia. A German diamond mining settlement until its abandonment in the 1950's, the surrounding sands have filled the homes. In 2014, I was awarded the W.K. Rose Fellowship from Vassar College to go to Kolmanskop and compose a piece based on that setting. I wanted to represent more than just the visual elements of Kolmanskop. I tried to depict the idea of decay as the sand fills the houses, the sense of loss and nostalgia as the structures fade away, and the passage of time. The whole town is a bit like an hourglass--the more time that passes, the higher the sand becomes. I found a violin in one of the houses behind a glass case, apparently made by a violin-maker in Kolmanskop at the turn of the century. It was strange to know that in these eerily silent buildings there had once been music, and I decided to represent that with a recurring offstage violin solo. As the violin plays, it is often hidden by walls of sound, struggling to be heard above the orchestra. This piece is written in memory of my teacher, Steven Stucky. He and I had many discussions about time, loss and what that meant in music, and those sections took on new meaning after his death.

The Composer

Will Healy is a composer and pianist based in New York. Known for his "lushly bluesy" sound and "adroitly blended... textures" (New York Times), he is the artistic director of ShoutHouse, an ensemble of 15 hip-hop, jazz, and classical musicians. In addition, he is an accomplished pianist specializing in Bach, with a repertoire that includes the complete Goldberg Variations and WTC Book 1. Recent awards include a 2017 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, a W.K. Rose Fellowship, and prizes in the Juilliard and Kaleidoscope Orchestra Composition Competitions. Healy’s work has appeared at The Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Greene Space, and on radio stations around the world. Healy is the recipient of the Richard Rodgers Scholarship at The Juilliard School, where he studies with John Corigliano.