Kolmanskop is a ghost town, located in a desert near the coast of Namibia. A diamond mining settlement until its abandonment in the 1950's, the surrounding sands have filled the homes. The first time I came across pictures of Kolmanskop, I was awestruck by the beauty and strangeness of the place. The photographs looked like surrealist art, with mountains of sand, sometimes to the tops of doorways and roofs, inundating ornate colonial houses.
In 2014, I was awarded the W.K. Rose Fellowship to go to Kolmanskop and compose a piece based on that setting. I wanted to represent more than just the visual elements of Kolmanskop. I tried to depict the idea of decay as the sand fills the houses, the sense of loss and nostalgia as the structures fade away, and the passage of time. The whole town is a bit like an hourglass--the more time that passes, the higher the sand becomes. I found a violin in one of the houses behind a glass case, apparently made by a violin-maker in Kolmanskop at the turn of the century. It was strange to know that in these eerily silent buildings there had once been music, and I decided to represent that with a recurring offstage violin solo. As the violin plays, it is often hidden by walls of sound, struggling to be heard above the orchestra.
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.
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