Composed at the Banff Centre for the Arts during the 2003 winter residency for percussionist Trent Petrunia, Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky was inspired by Emily Carr’s 1935 painting of the same name. The quote below is often found paired with this painting.
“There’s a torn and splintered ridge across the stumps I call the “screamers.” These are the unsawn last bits, the cry of the tree’s heart, wrenching and tearing apart just before she gives that sway and that dreadful groan of falling, that dreadful pause while her executioners step back with their saws and axes resting and watch. It’s a horrible sight to see a tree felled even now, though the stumps are grey and rotting. As you pass among them you see their screamers sticking up out of their own tombstones, as it were. They are their own tombstones and their own mourners.”
-Hundreds and Thousands, The Journals of Emily Carr (1934)
This new work for 5-octave solo marimba draws its inspiration from Emily Carr’s painting of the same name. Both aim to express the sorrowful occasion of trees being cut down and falling to earth.
The work alternates between slow, chorale-like sections, passages of effervescent sixteenth notes and sections of gestural figures. Much discretion is given to the performer, as many sections are marked “rubato” and have frequent tempo variations. This work also requires control over a full range of dynamic expressions, often shifting quickly from loud to soft and vice-versa.
Technically, the work demands a marimbist of considerable skill who can execute flawless rolls, clean vertical and lateral strokes and traverse the instrument effortlessly. Although the work is not terribly long, its wide range of expressions will make it enjoyable for both performer and listener.
— Scott Herring, Percussive Notes — December 2007
Click to hear a full recording of “Scorned As Timber, Beloved Of The Sky” (SoundCloud)