As we listen to a piece of music unfold over time our minds focus on the sounds of lines, colors, rhythms, textures, and the time elapsing itself becomes something we are only subliminally aware of. In a way, the time elapsing is the ground and everything else is the figure.
15 Minutes tries to reconfigure this relationship. Composed of 15 movements, each exactly one minute long, it invites us as listeners to contemplate the time elapsed as well as the music unfolding within it. We become aware of the minute that is the vessel within which the music is contained.
But of course time does not unfold in minute-long segments. And we don't necessarily listen this way either. As the piece progresses the listener can't but help to make connections beyond the individual movements. At the beginning of the piece, the movements are quite discrete from one another, with contrasting material and character. As it continues, though, the movements start to seem not like independent entities, but as segments from a larger whole. At the end of the piece, it starts to sound as if it is one continuous unfolding that has been arbitrarily sliced into separate sections.
The piece actually lasts closer to 17 minutes than to 15. This is because of the spaces between the movements, the durations of which are precisely specified in the score. The 17 minutes are the ground, the 15 minutes are the figure. The work is for flute, harp, and viola. It was commissioned by Marie-Pierre Langlamet.
— Sebastian Currier
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.