My Broken Arcs, Sufficient (2015) 9'

For bass clarinet and organ. 

Premiered at Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut, 4/30/15 . Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).

This piece takes as its inspiration a text by friend, teacher, and author Jeff Nunokawa. I found his “Dream Song: Late-Summer Night” especially striking for its pensive, poetic message, and I hope the music I’ve set forth in these pages has in some way captured a hint of the tone and beauty of Jeff’s prose. Jeff’s essay reads as follows: 

I thought that was something ugly that I had dreamed, said Mrs. Stone, or if it was real, that it could be forgotten (Tennessee Williams, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone) 


Lately, when I wake to remember something (nasty, nice; flat; sharp; hard, soft) that I have dreamed, or done (somehow conducted; somehow composed), I'm more glad than grieved to know that I will never know how much of all that jazz-age is passed, and how much of it is permanent; how much forgotten and forgiven; how much merely transmitted to a different device--pressed to play, when I am ready; depressed even when I'm not. 


 All those chords that toll me back to myself and others, chords sounded or seeming silent, will slip away soon enough--[s]liding by semitones till I sink to the minor--soon enough, the resting-place is found.  
Meanwhile (before the fall--through a spring, like a stone-to the final Rest, where all is silence), I see the Rock of Ages: [s]urveying awhile the heights I rolled from into the deep and I do what I can to make my broken arcs, sufficient Arks to [t]he C Major of this life-- 

----------------------------------- 
Note: before I try to sleep (Robert Browning, "Abt Vogler").” 

My music doesn’t trace any particular narrative implication from this text, but it does meditate on the sense of dream-like temporality Jeff conveys. And, skirting around the edges of both the music and the prose, there lies the open question of how we might seek meaning in our relentlessly finite moments in time. 

 

Listen:

Stained glass in Aylsham, England

Stained glass in Aylsham, England

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