CRIES AND ECHOES for Violoncello, Recorded Sounds, and Video (Optional), 2009, revised 2011.
  DVD Version of Performance: 2011.

Duration: 14:30

Performance practicality: Moderately difficult to difficult:  m4a sounds on Quicktime or other player and directions in score. Video for the cellist is on a DVD to be played as written in score.


CRIES AND ECHOES is a tone poem.  The general expression is of poignant longing— longing for many things: for walking peacefully in the forest and listening to the shrill tones of the vibrating trees in the wind and the lovely birdsong, for escaping the ever-bustling present-day life of cell phones, computers, noise, rushing here and there, never having enough time to contemplate the beauty of nature, the longing of the classical musician for a world rapidly disappearing— the concert hall, J.S. Bach’s and Brahms’ music, classical music in general which feels so much like an intrusion on today’s noise, and for the desire to be at one with the great music of the past but never quite achieving this, as we live here and now in this chaotic, multi-cultured world.

In 2008, Priscilla McLean approached Ronald Feldman, celebrated cellist, formerly of the Boston Symphony and now directing the Berkshire Symphony and artist-in-residence at Williams College, Williamstown, MA, and asked if she could write a piece featuring him as solo cellist, surrounded by his recorded sounds and an intrinsic video which features him and his cellos.  He agreed, and suggested that she add a little of J.S. Bach to the music, since he was planning on a solo concert in the fall of 2009 which included one of the Bach Cello Suites.  After several visits to his home in West Stockbridge, MA, recording a wide variety of cello sounds and melodies, and in the spring of 2009 the three cellos and his performing on them (hands and arms visible only), McLean put the piece together that summer.  Recorded sounds were augmented through the ASR-10 Sampling Synthesizer and SPX-1000 Digital Effects Processor, and the images were altered through Final Cut Express program on the iMAC Computer.  Ronald Feldman premiered CRIES AND ECHOES on Oct. 2, 2009 at Williams College on his annual cello recital, to a packed audience so full that people were sitting in the aisles.

At the beginning and ending of the music, the cello produces sounds similar to tree vibrations.  Throughout the work, small excerpts of J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 5 in C Minor can be heard, especially two-thirds of the way through when the recorded cello plays the beginning phrase of the Sarabande from the Suite, in duet with a recorded McLean melody.  The form is intuitive and organic, aided by a semi-abstract video of the cello in its many shapes and colors, the human hands often floating like ghosts caressing the omnipresent cello.


CRIES AND ECHOES is available on a “Cries and Echoes” DVD, available through MLC Publications, 55 Coon Brook Rd., Petersburgh, NY 12138 (pbmclean2 at gmail.com).