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I wrote Carrot Revolution in 2015 for my friends the Aizuri Quartet. It was commissioned by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia for their exhibition The Order of Things, in which they commissioned three visual artists and myself to respond to Dr. Barnes’ distinctive “ensembles,” the unique ways in which he arranged his acquired paintings along with metal objects, furniture, and pottery, juxtaposing them in ways that bring out their similarities and differences in shape, color, and texture. While walking around the Barnes, looking for inspiration for this string quartet, I suddenly remembered a Cézanne quote I’d heard years ago (though which I later learned was misattributed to him): “The day will come when a single, freshly observed carrot will start a revolution.” And I knew immediately that my piece would be called Carrot Revolution. I envisioned the piece as a celebration of that spirit of fresh observation and of new ways of looking at old things, such as the string quartet – a 250-year-old genre – as well as some of my even older musical influences (Bach, Perotin, Gregorian chant, Georgian folk songs, and Celtic fiddle tunes). The piece is a patchwork of my wildly contrasting influences and full of weird, unexpected juxtapositions and intersecting planes of sound, inspired by the way Barnes’ ensembles show old works in new contexts and draw connections between things we don’t think of as being related.

Gabriella Smith