for trumpet, trombone and piano
The two movements of A Strong Law Bids Us Dance were inspired by very different pieces of visual art, both of which deal with dance as the subject. These give their titles to the two movements, an introduction followed by a dance. A Strong Law Bids Us Dance is a photo-etching by Canadian Inuit artist David Neel, depicting a Kwakiutl dancer with a raven mask. The line is a quote from a Kwakwaka’wakw chief, explaining the importance of dance in their culture. Une très belle danse barbare is a drawing by Picasso, included in a letter to his patron and friend Leo Stein.
These movements are not so much interpretations of the works of art as they are my response to the titles (in particular the second movement is definitely not a cakewalk, the subject of Picasso’s drawing). The dramatic introductory movement might be considered a ritual summons to the dance, which follows without pause. I have tried to make this dance both “très belle” and “barbare,” with perhaps a little more emphasis on the latter.
A Strong Law Bids Us Dance was written at the request of my friends and colleagues Michael and Meme Tunnell, and Brett Shuster.