the concept of eternity is unfathomable and inescapable; indwelling and encompassing every facet of our lives. To gaze into the sky or peer through a microscope is to behold a world whose limits we can only imagine.
The poetry of Ashley Chang explores both the inward and outward landscapes of the universe in which we inhabit and ultimately reveals that we cannot fully comprehend the immensity of what lies before us; it is, as she writes, “beyond our imagining.”
The music begins with a flowing ribbon of sound that gradually builds in intensity to usher in the voice. This opening material is fast and somewhat aggressive but gradually gives way to the second section which features a more light-hearted, dance-like feel. After another climactic moment, the music becomes very placid and contemplative as the singer states, “though illiterate in the language of stars,” poignantly expressing the lack of vocabulary to describe such vast and incredible vistas. The music again builds to an intense climax and is juxtaposed with a direct recapitulation of the opening material which leads to the final two sections of the work. As the poem expresses the feeling of being “swooned in the vastness of God” the vibraphone supports the singer in a very simple and repetitive texture. This segues into the final section which I envisioned as a musical mobile, calmly and slowly spinning, being gazed upon in deep contemplation—a dreamlike state of profundity.
The music will hopefully complement the liquidity and ethereal beauty of the text, drawing the listener into their own introspection; their own listening universe.
COMMISSIONNetwork for New Music
PREMIEREOctober 12, 2012
Harold Prince Theater, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Sarah Davis (sop.), Angela Nelson (perc.), Michal Schmidt (vlc.)