Lili’uokalani for Solo Cello

By Luna Pearl Woolf | For Solo Cello| 10′

Title: Lili’uokalani
Composer: Luna Pearl Wool
Year Composed: 2015
Instrumentation: For Solo Cello Piccolo
Duration: 11′
Format: Full Score
Page Size: Letter
Catalog Number: OM0156

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From the composer:

Lili‘uokalani was commissioned by cellist Matt Haimovitz as an overture to J.S. Bach Suite VI in D major, BWV 1012. Lili‘uokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii, and that sovereign nation’s first queen. Worldly, educated, deeply Christian and beloved by her people, Lili u was forced to abdicate her throne and dissolve the monarchy by descendants of the same missionaries who brought literacy, Western music and Christianity to the islands three generations earlier. Bach wrote his Suite VI for a five-string cello, resulting in flights far above the traditional range of the conventional cello. Yet the opening of the Prélude seems to belie that extended range by exploiting two strings played in unison, with the bow moving between them to create a texture built on timbre rather than melody. It is in this progression from decorated unison to lofty heights, punctuated with storms of cascading sixteenth notes that I feel a deep connection to Lili u. As the basis of the music and culture of her from the tidal shift of trade and economic development that eventually brought down her government.

Lili‘uokalani for solo cello piccolo paints a portrait of the queen at this heart-wrenching moment in her reign. Drawn from the cello piccolo’s five strings we hear elements of traditional Hawaiian chant, transformed into ever-expanding harmonies; intimations of pre-Western musical implements and the plucked strings of the queen’s own guitar. We also hear lyrical moments that find their origin in Better Gods, a one-hour opera on the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy, commissioned by the Washington National Opera, which premiered shortly after this work was written. The solo voice of the cello piccolo, itself now all-but-obsolete, develops all these aspects farther than the human voice can go, and offers a glimpse of the strength and inner turmoil of this remarkable woman.


Commission/Dedication: For Matt Haimovitz. Dedicated to Ann and Gordon, in honor of Andrew Rork.
Premiere: First performed October 22, 2015 at Miller Theater in New York, NY by Matt Haimovitz.
Recording: This work is recorded on PENTATONE Oxingale Series’ Overtures to Bach. Click here for the smart URL for all listening options.

This entry was posted in Cello, Cello Piccolo, Composers, Instrument, Luna Pearl Woolf, Recorded on Oxingale and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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