I remember the first Earth Day as a teenager – I loved the idea then and all of these years later, it still seems a special day to celebrate. As I grow with my garden, I realize that creating a healthy place for all flora and fauna to flourish is my first ideal and goal. Lately, my time has been caught up in finishing the school semester, guiding my ensemble through its spring concert and tending my garden. Bill, my husband and creative partner, has been editing and mixing the studio recording of Watershed for cello and orchestra that was premiered in late February. The CD containing the piece will be released in late fall on Three Oranges Recordings but we are far enough in the mixing process to share a few of the highlights here in this montage, thanks to Bill’s talents and generosity. (see an earlier Watershed post here).
Adam Liu, the cellist for whom the piece was written, turned in a stunning and passionate performance and our Duquesne University Orchestra, inspired by masterful conductor Daniel Meyer, was at their best. How lucky can a composer be when the artists that bring a piece to life give their creative all? Adam began his musical career playing the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, and suggested that he play the second movement, Sunrise on Still Water, on the erhu rather than the cello. I agreed and I love the sound – it shimmers with unearthly beauty. I hope you enjoy this short montage of highlights from the 20 minute piece.
Spring is tentatively here, with mild days alternating with snowy winter days. The weeping cherry tree is in full bloom, but ironically its cultivar name ‘Snow Fountain’ became a reality when an overnight storm coated the blossoms with white snow.
The daffodils are coming into season, even as the early small bulbs continue to bloom.
The hellebores have shrugged off the snow and cold and continue to bloom in soft pastel shades.
Wherever you are, I hope spring is coming your way and your world is filled with color and beauty. And may every day become “earth day” in our hearts and minds.
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It has taken a few days, but this morning I had a cup of tea whilst listening to this. From the first bars I was transported. You captured all the different ways water might move, or be still, and created something very beautiful. Lovely rich textures. Loved it.
Ali, I love the image of you sipping tea while listening to the music. Thank you for taking the time to come back to this; I’m so glad you liked it!
What a treat, Lynn! You have served up a sumptuous feast of sound and image. The garden has so many delights in early spring. It’s a time to focus on individual flowers, one by one, and to treasure the colors after the monochromes of winter. I love the smallest ones – the little Scilla & Chionodoxa, the Anemone…but I think I said that last year!
The music – there is no question that it’s inspired by water – it takes on all the ways water moves, from those tinkling percussion bits in the headwaters (along with the low undertones of powerful currents), the sexy swaying of the jazz interludes in meander, the way everything flows together in confluence. It’s inspiring that you and Adam Liu collaborated when he suggested using the erhu, and it does bring such a unique sound to your piece. You can actually hear the erhu on subway platforms in New York sometimes, played by elderly Chinese men. Once in a while anyway!
I thought of my small town high school music teacher when you wrote about the luck of a composer to have a willing, able orchestra (and boy, are they terrific!). Our Mr. Schultz wrote orchestral pieces that he had our small band play from time to time, and I remember thinking how incredibly frustrating it must be, not to hear your music as you imagine it. You must be full to bursting. 🙂
Thank you, Lynn – spring was late this year, but all the more sweet because of it. So glad you liked the music; I love the image of elderly men playing the erhu in the subway. Mr. Schultz probably enjoyed it too; I’ve had my share of pieces played badly but it is part of the territory. I got very very lucky this time around! Adam was a dream to work with and brought both skill and passion to the stage; he wanted a signature piece to play around the world and I think he is happy with this one.
When I first heard the erhu I thought was hearing a woman’s voice.
Steve, it definitely has that effect, not unlike the theremin. The erhu was Adam’s first instrument and he is a particularly expressive player. It is often referred to as the Chinese two-stringed violin. Here’s a link: http://www.shenyunperformingarts.org/learn/article/read/item/94I3V_FwFbM/chinese-music-instruments-erhu-violin.html
I couldn’t get the music to play in my phone, but will be back again on my laptop. The images and words here are beautiful; I look forward to enjoying the music too.
I hope you try again on your computer, Ali. Thanks for stopping by!
Your composition is breathtakingly beautiful Thank you so much for your loving care of the earth and for sharing your God-given talents with the world! ❤️
Sharon, my friend, you are so kind. I know we share the same love of nature – you share your gifts of healing as well!
Lovely evocative title and music. I sense the water flowing throughout. ‘Confluence’ reminds me of Vaughan-Williams’ ‘London Symphony’ in its final movement with the Thames river flowing out to sea. May this piece ‘flow’ widely and bring blessing to many ‘dry places’. How good that you included the ehu. We need to get China and many other nations ‘on board’ with ‘Earth Day’.
Thank you, Richard. I love Vaughan Williams; a college roommate introduced me to “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” and I was hooked. I’m not familiar with his “London Symphony” so I will have to listen to it. Yes, it is my hope that this music will speak to others and inspire them to love and protect their waterways. Adam intends to perform this in China, so perhaps that message will flow there too. I just spent some time reading your beautiful prose on your blog – always a pleasure!
What a gifted tribute to the sustaining life force of water. Magical, much like your garden. Truly wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. Can’t wait for the CD to be released!
Happy belated Earth Day,
Thanks so much; as I was researching this piece, I was struck by the ongoing presence of water in our lives and our landscape. I was just enjoying your spring posts, especially the spring peepers!
Your garden. Your Photography. Your composing. Your talents are endless. I especially loved Sunrise on Still Water. Reminds me of early mornings on Lake Placid. What a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day. Thank you (and Bill!) for sharing.
Thank you, Audrey. My hope is that although the piece was inspired by my local watershed, the music will speak universally to the experience and memories of water. So, Lake Placid makes sense! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
Oh, Lynn, Lynn, Lynn…so beautiful and layered! Made my heart swell and spirit rise, and, I think light was flowing out of me by the end…wow! You are such a consummate artist. I can’t wait for the CD! Praise and thanks to you, and to Bill, whose editing gifts are readily apparent, as are the gifts of Adam and Daniel. What magnificent collaboration bringing your music to life.
Thank you so much for this joy, and for the inspiration of your blooms. Snow almost all melted here, so we shall see what we shall see. 🙂
Kitty, your words are so kind and generous. Collaboration is always at the heart of a project like this and I am so lucky to be able to work with such great musicians. Glad to hear that your snow is almost gone; we had a beautiful warm day today and more flowers are emerging by the hour.
Thanks very much for sharing the highlights; having heard the montage, I’m looking even more forward to the full piece, if that’s possible.
Thank you for the kind words, Kerry – I think you will enjoy the entire piece once we get it released.
I loved those highlights. Beautiful, evocative and accessible music. That subtle difference in tone of the erhu is ideal for that segment.
The dafs look lovely.
Concurring with colonialist! Thank you for sharing this post as a tribute to Earth Day, which I would like to celebrate with you in a special multimedia post at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/soundeagle-in-earth-day/
Thanks, SoundEagle – loved your Earth Day post!
Thank you for the kind words, colonialist. I love the erhu for that movement, so glad that Adam suggested it. The dafs are finally coming into their own; we’re having a very late spring this year.
Beautiful music, playing and flowers. A treat.
Thank you, tootlepedal – so glad that you enjoyed it.