Ensemble: speaking cellist
“Hindman made [Bystander], played with impressive poise and sensitivity by cellist Craig Hultgren, in similar fashion, using bystander video from Gray’s arrest for both spoken words and pitch sources. [Bystander] is more abstract and more powerful, the cello line shining and abrading, like fiberglass threads, the fragmented text outlining a sense of tragedy.”
~George Grella, “Dorothy Hindman’s range of expression on display in retrospective,” The New York Classical Review, March 09, 2016
Bystander cellphone videos have become increasingly important to counterbalance, confirm, and deny official and media reports of current events. Recent bystander videos have exposed a man ranting against Spanish-speaking mall employees, BBQ Becky, and more serious atrocities such as the Las Vegas shooting and police brutality. While these videos are generally made to ensure justice, the term bystander has other, more negative connotations.
This piece uses audio from a bystander video of a violent arrest that resulted in death. The victim in the video screams eight times; there are eight corresponding sections in the piece. The frequencies and amplitudes of each scream provides source material, microtonal pitches and dynamics for Bystander. Fragments of speech from several bystanders are also captured in the video and included, especially when they occur simultaneously with the victim’s screams. Like the video, the music of Bystander is quietly, powerfully disturbing.
Premiere: March 8, 2016
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
Commissioner: Bent Frequency