to its beginning to its end

For Chamber Orchestra (1.1.sax.1. –* – pft. perc.

my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end

my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts

– Samuel Beckett

This piece is inspired by the multitude of trips I have taken to the Huntington library and gardens. While I normally just spend the entirety of my visit walking around the gardens, thanks to my fellowship with the Pomona College Humanities Studio, I was able to actually take a scholarly visit to the innards of the library. Upon entering the Rothberg Reading Room, I was struck with the amazing level of quiet intensity that permeated the air. After exiting the library and walking around the surrounding gardens, small bits of music began to appear in my head, which I would periodically stop and write down into my music notebook.

As I began writing more in my Pomona dorm and elaborating on my material from the library visit, I realized that this piece has a strong connection to the purpose of the Huntington Library. In its essential form, this is a work about the life of a book, both physical and intellectual. This piece therefore became a sort of dialogue between the physicality of information, such as books or musical scores, and the actual information which they represent, such as stories or music. The musical manifestation of this arose as sections which are largely focused on extended techniques and the “physicality” harshly contrasted by sections of tonal melodies and harmonies. These represent the physicality and deterioration of materials which starkly contrast the immortality of the information which they hold.

As Pomona College’s music department does not have the ability to perform new orchestral works by students, this piece was premiered by an ad-hoc orchestra of musicians I gathered, rehearsed, and conducted for this specific performance. I am forever indebted to the amazing musicians who dedicated hours of rehearsals and outside practice of this piece. Their names (and instruments) are as follows:

Adam Dvorak: Violin I (Concertmaster)
Megan Chang: Violin I
Sara Uehara: Violin II
Charlie Yun: Violin II
Eric Zhu: Viola
Marcus Michel: Viola
Katherine Burgstahler: Cello
Thomas Flaherty: Cello
Ethan Ong: Doublebass
Hannah Caris: Flute
Alma Zook: Oboe
Jasper Davidoff: Alto Saxophone
Victor Chai: Bassoon
Ho Se Kwak: Trumpet
Joseph Brennan: Trombone
Andrew Acs: Euphonium
Jordan Huard: Percussion
William (Billy) Stone: Piano

This work is dedicated to these musicians.

Perusal Score