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About this Piece

In 1998, I was commissioned by the Bang on a Can “People’s Commissioning Fund” to compose a new work for the Bang on a Can All-Stars. The Schmetterling is one of my earliest chamber compositions. At that time, the bulk of my composing experience was limited to works for my own solo voice and electronics. I was delighted and honored but also somewhat intimidated to be making a piece for such a celebrated and virtuosic ensemble and to be tasked with writing for instrumentation that was relatively new to me. But I took on the challenge with enthusiasm and was quickly hooked on the colors and textures that it opened up for me.

The Schmettering, which recounts the tale of an exotic lepidopteran, is in truth a strange sort of love song—inspired by an encounter with a charming German composer, and by the text of an endearing shaggy-dog joke.

—Pamela Z