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Water Music


For harp, woodwind choir, and percussion

Duration: 20'

Water has been the inspiration to countless compositions, with composers like Handel, Debussy, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, and Rubinstein all writing major works depicting oceans, seas, lakes and rivers through music. I have yet to find, however, any compositions dealing with the threats water, water systems, and aquatic environments are under, and have been under for a number of years.
With governmental support being pulled from many environmental protection organizations (EPA, State Parks, etc.) in the USA, and the rising amount of stress put on the environment from developing nations like China and Russia, this composition stands as a reaction. I hope that the listener can keep the subject of the piece in mind throughout the performance, and reflect on the beauty of this valuable resource, while also thinking what they can do to change the trajectory humanity is on with its relationship with water.

This composition is in two movements, “Nilas” and “Estuary,” exploring water in its solid and liquid state, and the conflict that human activity has posed upon it. Nilas is a thin sea ice, between 5 and 10 centimeters thick, and has begun to constitute more of the ice found in arctic sub-arctic waters than it has in the past. The ice is flexible but fragile, and is more susceptible to melting and refreezing within a short period of time than pack ice. Mvmt I follows the warming of the arctic, and is meant to depict Nilas as is shifts and breaks before finally melting into sea water, and leading immediately into Mvmt II.

An estuary is where a body of freshwater meets a body of saltwater, and is home to some of the most active and diverse sea life in the world outside of reef communities, and is often known as the nurseries of the sea. Mvmt II begins with the opening motive from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, and grows into a new motive in the marimba, after which different themes and rhythms serve to maintain constant, feverous energy, until the harp presents a lullaby-like Adagio section (to pay homage to the estuary’s nickname). Afterwards, each theme returns, but stacked on top of one another as to throw the whole piece out of balance, just as these ecosystems are thrown out of balance due to Ph. change, overfishing, pollution, and other forms of human involvement. The piece ends, but not before a peaceful return of the lullaby theme as a hope for a more sustainable future.

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