Of All This Unintelligible World (2017) 9.5'
For orchestra. 2(II=picc), 2, 2(II=Bcl), 2(II=Cbn) - 4, 3, 2+bass, 1 - timp, 3 perc, hp, cel, str
Performed 4/1/17 by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).
Of All This Unintelligible World takes its inspiration from a William Wordsworth poem, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.” In the poem, Wordsworth contemplates the landscape surrounding the titular abbey, an impressively large Gothic structure that’s been abandoned. The abbey’s roof is missing, its stone walls are overgrown with vines, and just a few miles away, plumes of smoke rise off the riverbank, the product of some of England’s first factories. For Wordsworth, one of the first Romantic poets, returning to the countryside offers a sense of calm and “tranquil restoration,” and one particular phrase to that effect caught my attention. Wordsworth writes that his experience of nature creates a sublime mood “in which the heavy and weary weight / of all this unintelligible world, / is lightened.” I know I, like many others, have found the weight of our unintelligible world especially burdensome in recent months. This music responds both to that experience of heaviness and to the bracing optimism of Wordsworth’s poetry.