In 2016, we co-commissioned composer Christopher Cerrone to write a work for flutist Tim Munro to be premiered in an evening of solo flute works. Liminal Highway, written for flute and electronics, was a highlight of the program, with its lush timbres and atmospheric vibes.
If you missed the performance that November, you are in luck — they've recorded the piece (now available for purchase and streaming). And they've produced a stunning video that brings the work to life. We are honored, again, to play host.
Liminal Highway is a hypnotic five-movement work for flute and electronics by Christopher Cerrone. The piece was co-commissioned by Miller Theatre and premiered there by Tim Munro in November 2016.
Cerrone was inspired by the poem of the same name by John K. Samson, the lead singer of Canadian band The Weakerthans. Samson’s protagonist is caught in a moment between sleeping and waking. Cerrone captures the feelings of this moment with layers of shimmering, pulsing, and glowing flute, conjuring an atmosphere of anxiety tinged with fragile hope.
The SS United States, a ship that was the hope of a nation, but now lies, ruined, in the Philadelphia harbor, provides the backdrop for Four/Ten Media’s Liminal Highway film. The film’s exploration of the decayed ship reflects the concept of flawed memory and nostalgia in the piece and poem.
The opening of the poem reads:
when you fall asleep in transit
you rarely wake up much closer
to where you want to be
and you’ve missed the song
you were waiting to hear
coming up after the ad for a
funeral home and the traffic and weather
in a town you’ll never live in
or even see now that you’ve passed it
in a dream you don’t recall
"I stumbled upon an article about the longest naturally occurring echo in the world. A researcher squeezed into a giant storage tank and shot a gun, and the sound echoed for 75 seconds. I imagined a flute playing in this vast and lonely space, and thought about how memory functions like a vast, echoing chamber. These ideas led to Liminal Highway."
Munro relates the energy throughout Liminal Highway to the current anxieties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining:
"The liminal, in-between spaces of this piece capture my feelings during the in-between period of this quarantine period. I'm filled with uncertainty about what is next, but always, somehow, I keep moving forward."
Liminal Highway was commissioned by Miller Theatre and New Music USA for Tim Munro. It premiered at Miller on November 1, 2016.
Photo by Matt Zugale
Photo by Joe Mazza