The Mark of Excellence

Bunita Marcus

Sugar Cubes

By Glen HallThere is strength in the delicacy of composer Bunita Marcus's music. It can manifest itself in a single note. Standing in the sunshine, with eyes closed, on a winter's day, to feel one drop of water on the cheek from an icicle above, one small impact that wakes up the hearer: this is here/now. The title solo piano piece came from her teacher's (John Cage) advice on how to overcome "composer's block." She put a box of sugar cubes on the piano, where she creates. The piece, "Sugar Cubes," evolved out of the four-note motif based on the letters C, A, G and E. In "Sleeping Women" (with an accompanying video by Aron Kitzig), notes hang in suspension, sounding with and against each other in shimmering conjunction, entwined in a slow-motion dance of momentary images. "Lecture for Jo Kondo" unfolds like a flower, one petal at a time. At first, the violin sounds eerily like an accordion, but gradually metamorphoses into a singing saw, sliding between notes. "Merry Christmas Mrs. Whiting" was orchestrated by Morton Feldman, Marcus's long-time mentor/partner, from her original piano piece. The final composition for solo piano "…but to fashion a lullaby for you…" aches with a restrained sense of loss for her much-loved Feldman. Sugar Cubes is music that heightens the listener's perceptions.
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