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June 18, 2010

Construction and composition

Local history, architecture inspire Salem man's score 'Structures'

(Continued)

Wallace divided the movement into four main sections (to represent the house's four rooms), and the first section is 40 measures long and consists of 40 rhythmic entry points (to represent the 40 people who vouched for her).

The second movement is based on the Nathaniel Felton Sr. House in Peabody. Wallace said that Felton defended his neighbor, John Proctor, during the Witch Trials. That history is reflected in the music, as is the house, which was originally small and was added onto over the years in a "telescoping" fashion.

In the final movement of "Structures," inspired by the First Religious Society in Newburyport, Wallace said he incorporated into the music the church's solid granite base, massive chunk of timber at the bottom and the three-part steeple that rises from the boxy building.

"I wondered what it would be like if you could be up there," said Wallace, 49. "I imagined the weathercock spinning around and squeaking."

The five movements of the piece are "less descriptive than they are evocative of the mood of the buildings," Wallace said.

"You really have to open yourself to this experience," said Benotti, who plays violin and viola in "Structures." "It's not easy to listen to."

In some movements, the high pitch of the flute evoked almost a crying sound. In another, the violin and viola were plucked in threes.

"Overall, I wanted to create a movement from dark to light," Wallace said.

In addition to Benotti, the musicians who perform "Structures" are Orlando Cela of Somerville, who plays flute; Neil Fairbairn of Belmont, who plays bassoon; Mark Berger of Marlborough, who plays viola; and Sarah Freiberg of Belmont, who plays cello.

"We're fortunate to have John right here," said Benotti, who lives in Essex, "and he's worked with us a lot."

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