Del Sol String Quartet
The aftermath of the 2016 United States Presidential Election mostly derailed my desire to write music. I felt I was faced with two equally unsatisfactory options—create work that sounded oblivious to our current reality or poison my music with its ugliness. So I mostly chose silence. I revised older scores and added a few additional sections to some previously unfinished work, which nevertheless mostly remained unfinished. But the pandemic demanded my response as a composer; so I wrote Already Yesterday or Still Tomorrow. And then we had another Presidential Election. But we wound up not knowing the result for several days and, even once we did, it continued to drag on, since the incumbent who lost refused to concede. On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, it reached a breaking point when said incumbent inspired the siege of the United States Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of the Electoral College votes, which had given him only a losing total of 232 votes. A week later, he was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection by a total of, again, 232 votes. Finally, on January 20, a new president, Joe Biden, was sworn in—as luck would have it—232 years after the very first U.S. Presidential Inauguration back in 1789. While conspiracy theorists might try to find hidden meanings in all these instances of 232, I simply wanted to find a way to turn this number into music. Since I was writing a piece for the Del Sol Quartet’s ongoing Joy Project, it seemed a perfect opportunity to engage in a kind of musical schadenfreude—a journey through rhythmic permutations of 7 notes parsed into groups of 2, 3, and 2, which hopefully are very easy to hear. As for the use of the cadence of K. 575, it too is 232 years old. The string quartet has certainly come a long way since then even if my borrowing of it as the idée fixe for a seemingly never-ending ending never quite does.
–Frank J. Oteri