The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow

for violin and piano

Duration: 17:00

The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow was composed in Lima, Peru in the summer of 2010.

The swallow is the harbinger of spring, the bird of hope. When sailors saw swallows they knew they were not far from land. The story of the Red Sea Swallow (Hirundo perdita - lost swallow) is a strange one. The bird is known only from one specimen, found dead in May 1984 at Sanganeb Lighthouse, northeast of Port Sudan. The bird is considered by ornithologists to be most likely found in the Red Sea hills of Sudan or Eritrea, or possibly across the Red Sea in the coastal hills of northwestern Saudi Arabia. But a live specimen has apparently never been definitively sighted. This enigmatic swallow probably still exists but the lack of recent observations continues to mystify specialists.

The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow is something of a response to Ralph Vaughan-Williams' mini-masterpiece The Lark Ascending. My piece is more animated than The Lark - my elusive swallow seems to have inhabited more dangerous environs than the English countryside.

In The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow I present some variants on a theme I composed in 1994. This tune has preoccupied me since then and has found its way into several of my pieces including Concerto for Cello and 13 Instruments and the piano prelude "Watching" which provided accompanying music for El Rio que fluye dentro, an installation done by my wife, visual artist Cecilia Paredes in Lima in 2010 .

The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow was premiered by Maria Bachmann and Jon Klibonoff in Philadelphia in 2011.