for flute/piccolo, bassoon, percussion (1 player) and piano
I know next to nothing about falconry or hawking, but some years ago I was reading a novel in which falconry played an important part, and I discovered a wonderful new word, yarak. One falconry website describes yarak (apparently a word of Persian origins) as “full of stamina, well-muscled, alert, neither too fat nor too thin, perfect condition for hunting and killing prey. This state is rarely achieved but a wonder to behold when observed.” Another says, more bluntly, “Yarak is when all your bird wants to do is fly, feed, [fornicate], and fight.” How could I resist this as the title of a future composition (or movement, as it turned out)?
The movements attempt to describe musically two different states, that of the hooded bird, unable to see and thus unable to act, but still restless and full of potential energy, hardly tranquil even in the dark; and yarak itself: the hawk energetic and violent, cruel perhaps, but glorying in its skill and completely given over to its need to hunt.
Falconry 101 was written for Blue Mountain, a chamber group based in North Carolina. They had previously given splendid performances of two of my other works and so I wished to write something specifically for them. They graciously acceded to my self-invitation to compose a new piece for them.