Three Inner Moments: Glen Helen (A Phantasmagoric Journey on a Hazy Afternoon)
Three Inner Moments: Union Square, September 14, 2001 - In memory of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks
Three Inner Moments: Pines '99
2. Union Square, September 14, 2001 - In memory of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks
3. Pines '99
Three Inner Moments (String Quartet No. 2) was commissioned by Chamber Music Yellow Springs for the fantatsic Vogler Quartet from Berlin. The title is inspired by Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth, a transformative series of discussions with Bill Moyers in which he talks about the essential point of most rituals, regardless of the religion or tradition they come from, as being to briefly divorce oneself from everyday life and enter the sanctified space of ‘inner life’ where true spiritual insights occur. Thus, each movement is inspired by such a moment in my life.
In the first movement, “The Glen,” I remember my three best friends, on a summer around 6th or 7th grade, who would occasionally take our obsession with Dungeons and Dragons on a daytrip to the very magical place called Glen Helen, backpacks with lunch in tow. There, a small cave became the entrance to a labyrinth filled with monsters and treasure, a statue of a man on a horse became the knight who killed the dragon, and anything could become anything–and did! Perhaps the three cadenzas in violin, viola and cello represent my three friends and their thoughts. Perhaps…
“Union Square, September 14, 2001” was transcribed from a movement of the same name in my piano pieces Four Places In New York. That day, thousands of mourners converged on Union Square, which had already become a focal point and makeshift memorial for the 9/11 tragedy. Following a long period of silence, a lone trumpeter began playing The Star-Spangled Banner, When the Saints Go Marching In and America. The effect of hearing this music emerging out of the communal silence, which inspired everyone to join in singing, was mesmerizing. This is evoked in music by a fugue-like crab cannon, in which the outer sections of the movement are melodic mirror images of each other, based on the National Anthem. The middle section is an ethereal variation on Saints, juxtaposed with America, which gradually emerges from the haze. The lone trumpeter is heard again at the very end.
The summer of 1999 was special for me not only because it was the end of the 20th century, but also because it was the first summer I rented a time-share in the Pines, a part of Long Island’s Fire Island. Fire Island has long been a summer retreat and resort for LI residents, but the Pines in particular became a haven for artists, assorted misfits and, yes, revelers looking for a good time. One often gets the feeling that a party started there sometime in the 1960s and never quite ended. Due to its large gay population, the Pines was especially hard hit by AIDS in the 80s and 90s. One afternoon, as I daydreamed in the sun, I could hear disco music coming from various houses, combining and clashing. These sounds seemed to meld with past and present, taking me into the spiritual realm. This mixing and chaos is heard in the quartet using a free notation technique, and finally, after a climax, a calm, happy song emerges, rising gloriously, as if to say that the party, the music, the people – life – can and will go on.