One act ballet based on the novella, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
Commissioned by San Francisco Ballet for the 2018 Unbound Festival
Choreography by Cathy Marston
Music by Philip Feeney, Arvo Pärt, Arthur Foote and Amy Beach
Arranged by Philip Feeney
Designed by Patrick Kinmouth
Performed by the Orchestra of San Francisco Ballet, under the direction of conductor, Martin West
World Premiere: War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, 21st April 2018.

The music for Snowblind belongs to a series of ballet scores that Feeney composed between 2015 and the present day that mix original with music from an earlier period, a technique seen at its fullest most notably in the ballet, Jane Eyre, whose full-scale production premiere preceded Snowblind by a few weeks. The productions are in collaboration with choreographer Cathy Marston who finds that such a musical strategy allows there to be a sense of period while also having sufficient capacity for psychological depth and flexible story-telling.

The piece was the upshot of a commission by San Francisco Ballet as part of the Unbound season that took place in the spring of 2018. Twelve choreographers were selected and invited to create a one act ballet; the resultant ballets were spread of four triple bills. Marston chose to create a short narrative ballet based on the novella, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, a story of an entrapped love and suffocation set in a snowbound New England.

Feeney seamlessly threads the period music of the Boston Six into the ballet’s musical language which is haunted by pre-echoes of quotes from Arvo Pärt’s lonely and taut Lamentate. The final section of the Pärt also provides the long and beautiful pas de trois that closes the ballet, giving the work a poignant and haunting quality.

Feeney was delighted to hook up again with conductor Martin West, Musical Director of San Francisco Ballet. They had previously worked together sixteen years previously on Feeney’s score for Patrick Lewis’ ballet, Manoeuvres, for English National Ballet.

Snowblind incorporates extracts from the following scores:
Arthur Foote, Exaltation, op.62, no.2
Amy Beach, Violin Sonata, op.34, II Scherzo.
Amy Beach, Op.128, no.2 Young Birches
Amy Beach, Dreaming, op. 15, no.3
and 2 sections from Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate: stridendo and fragile e conciliante