Première of Words Fail Me – About the Piece

This work, which I’m very excited about, uses parts of a recording of Virginia Woolf‘s lecture broadcasted by BBC, called “Words Fail Me.” Oddly enough, I don’t think words ever failed her. This brilliant woman, one of my true hero, part of an intellectual circle of men in the early 1900s, had ways to put words together from which true feelings, true atmospheres emanate. Words become secondary to the journey she drags one through. Something in me fantasizes that, when I read her novels, I somehow experience what she experienced in her mind.

Composer Allan Gordon Bell, on a recent encounter with him, said something about music beginning where words fail you. Coincidence that I heard these words when I had just finished the piece? Nevertheless, what an amazing conjunction of two worlds and abilities; one of the words and that of the music, put together to create meaning. I’m not trying to compare my art to Woolf’s, as she was a true genius, but rather to express my appreciation for those whom can use words with such finesse to fine means.

Thus Words Fail Me (the piece) truly begins where words fail me. In my confusion of it all, perhaps even frustration, Woolf provides advice, wisdom, and an understanding of the art of writing throughout the work. She does with candor and humility. I imagine her saying “Don’t worry, this is how it goes… and it’s as simple as that,” but with much eloquence.

In terms of compositional techniques, the work asks the players to react to the tape part, as well as to each other. Events rarely line up. Thus the musicians must be alert to their sonic environment at all time, which I hope will generate spontaneous surge of energy and tension.


Words Fail Me

performed by / interprété par
Evan Bowen, percussion
Branko Džinović, accordion
Wesley Shen, piano



Thursday, March 24, 2016
8 PM, Array Space (155 Walnut Ave, Toronto)
Tickets:  $15 students, arts workers, seniors | $20 regular

Also featuring works by Patrick Arteaga, August Murphy-King, Bekah Simms and Tyler Versluis.