While a student at the Juilliard School an impending competition deadline saw me scamper to the library to choose the required “American work written after 1990.” Perusing scores, I happened upon Elliott’s Bariolage, rather blithely included it in my selection of repertoire and mailed off my entry. A short time thereafter a first read-through sent panic coursing through my veins as I realized what I had agreed to memorize in a month – an hour a day was to be spent memorizing three bars at a time! Those hours, however, have become some of the most profound in my musical education. Layer-by-layer I discovered Elliott’s writing and his rhythmic, harmonic, and coloristic counterpoint opened up new ways of hearing the harp. The experience also fueled my desire to work with living composers.
I had the great privilege to play this work for Mr. Carter for his birthday celebrations these past few years; and with each passing year I was continually amazed at his humility and ardent passion for finding new outlets of expression. After a 100th birthday party I laughed with him at the size of the audience, “Mr. Carter, look how loved you are!” “Yes,” he responded “but all this celebrating is taking me away from what I really should be doing… composing!” I had to chuckle, realizing even that phrase was a beautifully crafted bit of whimsy. Thank you, Mr. Carter, for giving so much to us.