David A. Jones

Composer, Performer

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Po-um (Lyric)


This work was written in response to a sculpture of the same title by the Italian-American artist Mark di Suvero, located on campus at Rice University in Houston, Texas. A central theme in many of di Suvero's works is balance, inspired in part by the great imbalance between Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and the treatment of African-Americans and other minority groups. The sculpture Po-um (Lyric), the title of which was inspired by an Ezra Pound poem, is a twelve-thousand-pound knot of abraded steel that sits perfectly balanced atop a narrow pole. The work's smooth, flowing curves form a vaguely bird-like shape, and the sculpture gradually moves with changes in the wind, like a giant weathervane.

This piece responds to the sculpture's incredible balancing act by taking unequal elements - uneven harmonies with imperfect octaves, phrases of unequal lengths, and changing, irregular meters - and bringing them into balance with each other. The turbulent chromatic sections in the middle of the piece represent strong winds of change that carry the music into new harmonic realms. The uneven materials presented in the beginning are required to find new states of equilibrium amidst rapidly changing conditions.

Commissioned in May 2020 by the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University, to be premiered in the summer of 2020 in a video series celebrating Public Art at Rice. Written for percussionist Aaron Smith.