A Very Star-Like Start
by John Liberatore
"a very star-like start" is a short capriccio. Though the piece is written for eight instruments, the persistent voice crossing, hocketing, and transparency of texture may make the ensemble seem much smaller. I completed the work at the Millay Colony, an artist's retreat founded by the estate of Edna St. Vincent Millay and housed on her property in Upstate NY. The title comes from Robert Frost’s description of fireflies in the garden, a common sight on the Millay Colony grounds. The quote in fuller context reads:
“Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.”
Though the title came at the end of the compositional process, as it often does, the poem helps me understand something about the piece I've created. First, the mosaic construction of this piece resembles a field a fireflies. Each instrument winks in and out sight, creating composite lines and textures that no instrument creates on its own. On a deeper level, Frost articulates something essential about human expression.