The inspiration for Aere senza stelle (Air Without Stars) was the tempestades de poeira—or dust storms—that travel from the Sahara Desert to the Iberia Peninsula, a phenomenon experienced during my youth in Portugal. From the descriptions of “blood rains” as bad omens epics by Homer, Hesiod, and Plutarch, to scientific observations by Darwin and Ehrenberg in the nineteenth century, up until today, the reporting of desert dust storms has evolved from descriptive narratives to encompassing an entire field of environmental research.
Re-reading Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, I recognized a profound poetic connection to climate change, and so I mirrored the structure of Canto III, 22-30 dividing the work into three sections. In the final measures, the string quartet creates a sonic cloud, as though carrying an infinite stream of particles from the desert to other parts of the world.
- Lacrimoso, quasi recitativo – the starless air: lyrical and static.
- Agitato, strepitoso – a tumult of voices: dense, angular and dissonant.
- Misterioso, senza misura. Inquieto – time suspended. A whirlwind of sands, vanishing into infinity.
Commissioned by the 2022 Vail Dance Festival, Damien Woetzel – Artistic Director – Aere senza stelle is dedicated in admiration to António Guterres, for his life dedication to climate change issues, and to Catarina Vaz Pinto. A special thank you to Brooklyn Rider.