Composition Department

Eric Lindsay, DM 2013

Piano (2009)

Indiana University New Music Ensemble
David Dzubay, conductor
Laura Thoresen, Soprano solo

Performed on April 20, 2010; Auer Hall, Indiana University

Piano [10:22]


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Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cozy parlor, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

I was given the tremendous honor to compose this piece for the Georgina Joshi Foundation. Shortly after I was first notified of this opportunity, I came across a beautiful D.H. Lawrence poem that so poetically described the illusory nature of memory and our relationships to the past that the music for this piece practically leaped off the page.

The image of the poet’s mother at the piano is rendered here like a memory that is initially fleeting and incomplete and eventually comes into focus throughout the piece. Augmented arrangements of the piano’s music as it becomes more intelligible are passed through the ensemble, creating a type of dream state in the middle of the piece. Throughout the work, spatial arrangements are used to symbolize the past and the present—the mezzo-soprano, for example, begins on a platform on the outside of the ensemble to represent a kind of distance from the act of remembering the past. As her memories become more vivid, she moves to the center of the ensemble and, overcome, doesn’t return to the removed position again. Further illustrating the relationship between these spaces, the English Horn occupies the platform position when the opening music returns at the end, and accompanies the mezzo with all of the mezzo’s music from the first third of the piece. Similarly, Violin I presents a recurring “reminiscing” theme that, as the music of childhood becomes clearer later in the piece, the “reminiscing” theme is played from farther away.


Eric Lindsay’s music frequently plays upon the themes of style synthesis and the reinterpretation of tradition, and whose broad scope includes various approaches to concert music, interactive electronics, sound installation and film. Eric’s scores are published and distributed through Peermusic Ltd. and the Theodore Presser Company, making him the one of the youngest composers to be published in Peermusic’s New Voices Series. Born in Santa Cruz in 1980 and raised on Whidbey Island, WA, Eric began composing at age nine. He holds composition degrees from Indiana University-Bloomington and USC, as well as studies at King’s College in London. His past instructors include Don Freund, Donald Crockett, Morten Lauridsen, P.Q. Phan, Claude Baker, Gabriela Ortiz, and Sydney Hodkinson.

His work has been performed by the American Composer’s orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, eighth blackbird, the Argento Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Del Sol Quartet, ADORNO Ensemble, Chamber Mix, Volti, Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and pianist Jenny Lin, among many others.

Recent national honors include becoming a Finalist in the 2011 Finale National Competition Contest and winner of the 2012 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Audience of the Future competition, 2012 Lake George Music Festival’s Composition Competition and 2012 Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble Composers Competition, in addition to awards from ASCAP, The Society of Composers Inc., Volti’s Choral Arts Laboratory, National Federation of Music Clubs’ Emil and Ruth Beyer awards, the Truman State/MACRO Competition and the Thornton School of Music. He has also participated in June in Buffalo, Aspen Music Festival, and the ACO Underwood New Music Readings. His orchestral work, Darkness Made Visible, recently received its premiere under the baton of Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and his multimedia installation, So I Want To Write A Piece About John Cage, was recently premiered in San Francisco by the experimentally courageous ADORNO Ensemble. Score samples and recordings are available on his website, Some of his scores for motion pictures and television (in collaboration with the rock musician, Robert Hawes), a remnant of his years in Los Angeles, are available at