Portals/Portails (2001) by Laurie Radford
for violin, viola, cello, and electronics
US premiere

The word root "port" appears in many languages. It lends itself to words ranging from those indicating a door, gateway, or harbor, as well as a manner of movement and the act of supporting something, to the foreshadowing of events to come and the carrying of an as-yet-to be born child. The image of a portal, a place or object that facilitates entry to a new environment, a new manner of thinking, a new body of knowledge, and in fact embodies the very act of that entry, provides the central impetus for Portals/Portails. The portal represents a state that exists while one is in transit from one point in space and time, from one state of being to another. But passage through a portal need not be merely a fleeting phase; it can be a state of action, a commitment and engagement with the very essence of change that rivals the act of departure and the pleasures of arrival. This state and place of transition (if one can speak of a particular place or time for something that is, by its very nature, in flux) hungers for new sounds, new manners of execution.

Portals/Portails consists of four sections in constant transition. This music is driven towards a punctuation provided by several string solos and a near-static refrain that seeks ascendance, unsuccessfully, to some ultimate goal. A series of transformations to the sounds of the string performers provided by live digital signal processing extends the timbral and expressive range of the piece and offers an additional "portal" through which both the music and the listener are drawn.

Portals/Portails was written for Concerts M in Montréal and members of the Bozzini String Quartet and was made possible through funding support from The Canada Council for the Arts.

— L. R.    

[from program for May 21, 2007 concert]