AhojAhoj is the first piece in the Sharp Splinter cycle, a collection of works exploring family, memory and separation. During the Cold War, my parents exchanged and incredible number of letters, audio cassettes and films with their family behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. In 2009, I gathered all of this material together and started to sort through all of these treasures. I was so astounded by their voices on the audio cassettes, which were like timewarping through memory. It is some of these that are featured in AhojAhoj. Almost all of the excerpts I’ve chosen are hellos and goodbyes (both Ahoj! in Czech), as well as a longer passage by my grandmother – surprisingly in English – where she puts it just right: “When we hear your voices, so near, we imagine you are here in the next room.” Most of these people are no longer with us.

This piece is written for Luciane Cardassi. I was inspired to use a fixed medium for the electronics by Luciane’s incredible talent for synchronicity. The piano is also amplified. Other than the voices and piano resonances, the other sounds come from a tape deck, whose sound was inseparable from the experience of making and listening to these cassettes from the 1960s to 1980s.

Listen to AhojAhoj, played by Luciane Cardassi:

Watch AhojAhoj, played by Luciane Cardassi in concert: