Skip to page content

About this Piece

Composed: 2011
Length: c. 14 minutes
Orchestration: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, timpani, percussion (glockenspiel, tubular bells, xylophone), harp, and strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances

Written for Armando Bayolo and the Great Noise Ensemble and dedicated to musicologist Seth Brodsky, Hush was premiered September 9, 2011, by the Great Noise Ensemble, David Vickerman conducting, in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Relentless canons propel Hush forward towards its inevitable catastrophe. This catastrophe or climax is followed by a kind of post-traumatic response: secondary canons, and an unrelated piece of material that enters — alien to the piece, like scar tissue — within a hushed surface. This alien material is a quote from the old English lullaby: “All the Pretty Little Horses,” emerging in the horn: a call — suggested by the melody’s opening fifth, but not the kind of call that refers to the triumphant or military character of horn-calls we may remember from past contexts. The horn is left in a no-man’s-land after a disaster to sing to itself, to try to find solace — or perhaps to try to forget.

The return of the opening material that follows acts as a memory rather than a resolution, incapable of acting with the same snowballing momentum as in the beginning. Its accumulation is simply an arc of activity, silenced by repeated notes that also recall an earlier spot in the piece. These notes ring as the last of the string pizzicatos fade in the viola and cello: a gentle sleep.

In my mind, the lullaby is an apt choice for suggesting the reaction to a violent destruction or trauma. A lullaby is itself a false world, an invitation to dream… to escape… to hush.

— Hannah Lash