wine-dark sea is a two-movement piece about two starkly contrasting ocean experiences. The first movement, “wail,” explores the feeling of deep empty space in the ocean. This movement glides slowly through the abyss, sometimes breaking through the emptiness with whale cries—the spectral multiphonics of the bass clarinet. The second movement, “whelm,” is about a human experience in the ocean which can at one moment be peaceful and lovely, as the human and ocean waves gently swell up and down together, while in another moment can be chaotic and painful, as a wave overtakes the human, churning her beneath the surface against sand and rocks, disorienting her, and sometimes nearly drowning her. This movement fluctuates between feelings of peace and chaos, ending in a release in which the swimmer accepts drowning and allows herself to be “whelmed.” — Lucy McKnight
Lucy McKnight (b. 1998) is a composer, singer, and cellist from Los Angeles. She studies composition with Sean Friar at USC Thornton School of Music, and studied at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland for the Spring 2018 semester. Her music has been performed across the U.S. by numerous ensembles, including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Versipel New Music, Wild Rumpus, the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, and Transient Canvas. In 2017, McKnight was Young Composer in Residence for Sunset ChamberFest, and she has been a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, New Music on the Point, and the Alba Music Festival. Currently, Lucy is working on a piece for the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France to be premiered as part of IRCAM 2019 in Paris, where she will participate in workshops and study with Kaija Saariaho.