Ted Hearne is not a composer to shy away from the real world. From his now-canonical Katrina Ballads, which sets texts related to the 2006 Hurricane of the same name, to his modern-day oratorio project The Source, which sets texts surrounding Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks, Hearne's music draws from the complexities of politics and recreates similar tensions and complexities within his music.
Hearne's 30-minute work for string orchestra, Law of Mosaics, is no exception to this rule. Hearne borrows the title from a passage in David Shields' Reality Hunger: "The law of mosaics: how to deal with parts in the absence of wholes." Commissioned in 2013 by A Far Cry, and released on CD alongside Andrew Norman's The Companion Guide to Rome in 2014, Law of Mosaics can be read as an essay in five parts. Picking up on Shield's metaphor of weaving a fabric between digital and analog media and culture, Hearne crafts a loosely-knit pattern of musical references and inspirations; if these form the weft of his weaving, then his own compositional voice constitutes its warp. In the end, the "patterns" woven together by Hearne resemble less a tightly-knit pastiche than performative absence of seamlessness, a reminder of the gaps and voids that constitute our everyday lives.
Law of Mosaics will be performed as a part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW series, co-curated by Elizabeth Ogonek and Samuel Adams, on November 23rd at Chicago's Harris Theater.
Hearne's critically-acclaimed project The Source, which premiered at the 2014 Next Wave Festival at BAM, is also newly available as an audio recording on New Amsterdam Records. Writing in Pitchfork, Seth Colter Walls calls it "some of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory—from any genre." Check out a video excerpt of its premiere at BAM below.