Christopher Cerrone: Liminal Highway

, composer


Composer Christopher Cerrone and Grammy Award-winning flutist Tim Munro release Liminal Highway, a hypnotic work for flute and electronics. Liminal Highway evokes the moment of limbo between sleeping and waking, an anxious, in-between place that forces us to reflect on our life. Cerrone transforms the flute into something entirely new, an instrument that can drum, shimmer, sing, and erupt.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 16:20

Liminal Highway

01I. When You Fall Asleep in Transit
I. When You Fall Asleep in Transit
02II. Between Consciousness and Sleep
II. Between Consciousness and Sleep
03III. A Dream You Don’t Recall
III. A Dream You Don’t Recall
04IV. Liminal
IV. Liminal
05V. Suddenly it is Needed
V. Suddenly it is Needed

Christopher Cerrone deals in one-of-a-kind musical experiences. His magnetic and “gorgeous” music (The New York Times) brings raw and deep emotions to the surface. Cerrone’s Invisible Cities, performed throughout the public spaces of Los Angeles’ Union Station, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Liminal Highway, written in 2015 for flutist Tim Munro, is inspired by John K. Samson’s poem of the same name. The opening of the poem reads:

when you fall asleep in transit
you rarely wake up much closer
to where you want to be
and you’ve missed the song
you were waiting to hear
coming up after the ad for a
funeral home and the traffic and weather
in a town you’ll never live in

or even see now that you’ve passed it
in a dream you don’t recall

Caught between sleeping and waking, Samson’s protagonist comes to understand who they are and where they are going. In Cerrone’s work, layers of flute shimmer, pulse, and glow, conjuring an atmosphere of anxiety tinged with a fragile sense of hope.

The cover photograph of this album was taken on board the SS United States. This ship was the hope of a nation, but lies, ruined, in the Philadelphia harbor. It was a perfect location for Four/Ten Media’s video of Liminal Highway, which echoes with memories of the past. This video will be released on the same day as this album.

Liminal Highway was commissioned by New Music USA and Miller Theatre at Columbia University for Tim Munro. Joan and Barry Miskin provided additional support for the recording and filming of the project.

Recorded by Anthony Gravino in Chicago, IL on Dec 14, 2018

Mixed, edited, and mastered by Mike Tierney in Brooklyn, NY

Liminal Highway was commissioned by New Music USA and Miller Theatre at

Columbia University for Tim Munro. It premiered at Miller Theatre on November 1, 2016

Further funding for the project was provided by Joan and Barry Miskin

Photos by Danie Harris, Evan Chapman, and Kevin Eikenberg, from the Liminal Highway video shoot on the SS United States

Design by Todd Doyle

”Liminal Highway“ (the poem) is © 2012 John K. Samson and used with the author’s kind permission




Christopher Cerrone's Liminal Highway (2015) is one of those acoustic-electronic works where the two elements seem to converge. In fact, even an online video of the performance recorded here does not 100 percent resolve the question of who is playing what; the flute of Tim Munro has lots of flutter-tonguing and finger tapping, and when these are picked up into loops the listener is drawn into a dream world where sounds and shapes bleed into each other. The work's title and inspiration come from a poem by rock musician John K. Samson (of The Weakerthans) that evokes the feeling of "when you fall asleep in transit." The word "liminal" denotes an in-between state, a state of transition, which is uncannily evoked here. The work is in five movements in something of an arc shape that suggests a mental journey, with the second and fourth movements action-filled and more percussive, and the third opening out into a mind-expanding landscape of reverb. The first and final movements echo each other, with the work dying away at the end. This is a contemporary composition that can appeal to anyone, and it is an extremely inventive treatment of the interface between acoustic music and electronics.

— James Manheim, 8.21.2020


The Wire

A piccolo trill, dog whistle shrill, sets New York based composer Cerrone’s Liminal Highway in motion. Drawing its title from a poem of the road, its hazards and dreams, by folk rocker John Samson, this compelling travelogue in five movements, lasting little more than a quarter than an hour, was written with the expansive artistry of flautist Tim Munro in mind. While precise vibrations in the upper register may suggest glinting sunlight on a windscreen or gleaming chrome, the sustained rhythmic fluctuations of Munro’s key clicks and tongue flutters convey, as the journey unfolds, the churn of automotive power and tyres revolving on hot tarmac. Munro evokes superbly the twin facets of driver and dreamer. His flute proliferates, layered along with decay of reverb from and oil rig and beer bottles blown like panpipes within a phantasmagoric soundscape.

— Raymond Cummings, 8.21.2020

Related Albums