STRING QUARTET NO. 1 was written in the winter of 1991. It is fully representative of the modal/process style that I followed from about 1985 – 1992. The work picked up the name “Woodpecker” in its first rehearsal, because of the knocking on the wood of the instruments which occurs in the last movement. (The knocking does not need to be on the back of the instrument, but it needs to be loud and resonant enough to balance the pizzicato open strings of the cello and viola.) The knocking does not refer to anything representational, I just happened to conceive of the material with percussion.
The music represents a certain restlessness that I was feeling at the time, as many changes and challenges were occurring in my life. The style which dominates this piece also proved to be too refined and controlled for the expressive urges I was feeling. A few months after writing this piece, I began pursuing something very different.
This piece was first performed at what turned out to be the last concert of the Arizona Composers Forum in the spring of 1991, by members of the Tucson Symphony in Tucson, AZ.