Here Schuller creates not the perhaps-expected fanfare, although it verges on that kind of brilliance at times, but rather a work of continuous, often very subtle shifts of hue and texture.
A number of places in the area have taken the appellation on, but for those who know the region, the mighty Tuolumne Meadows spring first to mind.
One of the principal natural features of Yosemite, this large subalpine meadow remember the one Bambi got so excited about? It was also a favorite of the American photographer Ansel Adams —84whose work has occupied my imagination from my first exposure to his landscapes as a child, in books my mother had from her studies in photography.
I chose two images from that album, Plate 4 — Untitled Water over Rock and Plate 22 — Merced Lake Country, both of which were taken very near the Tuolumne Meadows, and paired them Tanglewood united fleet one of his most iconic images, a view Tanglewood united fleet the eastern Sierra Nevada not far away.
The minute piece I wrote is a kind of response to the set of three black-and-white photographs with each of the three movements corresponding to one imagea meditation on and celebration of both the place and the images.
Each photo is described below: Untitled Water over Rock: Upon first glance, the spacing of the fanned-out rivulets of water which are cast over a rock in a mountain creek seems nearly perfect, as if each finespun stream had been rationally measured.
The scale is difficult to discern. The rock could be inches or feet across, and the elegant shape could even resemble a leaf over which the water flows in all directions, splashing brightly onto the hard creekbed and into the deep blackness of the pool below.
|Sean Shepherd, Composer||Parrott, wife of T. Holman becoming its first mayor.|
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The brutal terrain of the Eastern Sierra escarpment and Mount Whitney the highest point in the contiguous US is in high contrast in this dawn shot. A few mists and thin clouds hover.
A lower, gentler foothill in the middle ground just in front of the large mountains has not yet been exposed to the dawn light and lies dark and dormant.
A patch of sun illuminates a meadow in the foreground of the image, where a single horse, made tiny in the grand scale of the view, grazes among a band of leaf-naked cottonwoods.
The main object, a weather-battered pine tree, whose twisting trunk and figure seem to give the image a vertical thrust, occupies the foreground. Across a canyon the mountains behind consist of smooth, rounded granite features pocked by bands of hardy trees and other flora, a familiar sight in the high Sierra.
These photos move me, both as representational objects and abstract images. The rocks, trees, clouds and mountains; the precise, highly controlled play of light and dark.
What we are shown, and how it is presented. Although the place is significant—and place has often held a special significance for me in pieces like Wanderlustpremiered by the Cleveland Orchestra in —the three movements of Tuolumne are, in my view, best understood as emotional responses to these works of art.
I intended neither to illuminate nor describe the photos in a deliberately programmatic or pictorial sense — not least due to the difficult translation from a spatial and visual medium to a temporal and aural one.
Nor did I make an attempt at a companion set. That was by design from the very beginning.
Tuolumne is built to stand on its own, but without these photos and without the work of Ansel Adams, it would not exist. Musicians who know his work are quick to point out with pride that Adams trained seriously as a pianist while growing up in San Francisco, and was well into his twenties before he decided to pursue photography, then in around still a relatively new medium, exclusively.
Aides have described their surprise upon finding not one, but many negatives for his iconic shots. He found the America he most wanted to describe, a license that one who wrestles with such questions must often remind themselves all artists are freely afforded.
The three movements of Tuolumne are ordered in a basic slow-fast-slow design, and much of the music is virtuosic, owing to the capacities of the magnificent ensemble for which it was written, which I have been privileged to know more intimately as Daniel R.
Many of the musicians are deployed as soloists, starting with flute in the opening bars and the horn soon after. I wrote for a large orchestra partially to explore the coloristic possibilities presented both among and within sections.
To one flute, three are soon added in the opening moments, for example, and some 20 minutes later, the solo cello meanders and floats ever higher while the rest of the strings flutter quietly in accompaniment.
While there are many powerful tutti moments in between, the piece starts and ends softly, intimate by design in my largest, most personal piece to date.
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.Find the most current and reliable 7 day weather forecasts, storm alerts, reports and information for Calgary, AB, CA with The Weather Network.
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