Glimpse (2012) - For Orchestra
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Commissioned by the Youth Orchestras of Prince William
John Devlin, Music Director
Sometimes my completed pieces remain untitled for a while until the perfect title reveals itself to me, and other times it is the title that inspires the piece. In the case of “Glimpse,” it was the latter – I decided on the title months before composing any of the music. Using a lens, such as a title, poem or artwork, helps stir my creativity and focus my musical ideas.
Just before I began composing “Glimpse,” I strolled in New York City’s Riverside Park and took in a “glimpse” of a scene at the park, opening my eyes for a few seconds and then closing them shut, trying to remember all that I saw and heard in that one moment. I remember a lively scene: seeing people bicycling and jogging, others standing talking on their cell phones or playing ball with their children in the grass, while the expanse of the Hudson River glistened in the sun in the background, and I heard the traffic of the busy city streets behind my shoulder. I thought of all the different people’s lives that converged for this single fleeting moment, one that I arbitrarily captured, but which had already started to form a vivid memory in my mind. I imagined where the lives of all these characters in this scene lead after the moment was over and they continue with their lives.
In my piece, I aim to capture a similar fleeting moment, and then gradually explore the elements of this “glimpse” in greater depth as each develops and grows over the course of the piece. For instance, at the beginning of “Glimpse,” I present all the themes of the work at once, superimposed on top of each other. At the onset, you will hear a fanfare motif in the brass, a passionately lyrical, rising melody in the strings, a frenetic triplet texture in the winds, and dramatic bursts in the bass drum and timpani. These are the characters of my piece, and each reappears throughout the work in different guises and contexts, transformed by time, occasionally meeting again.
My work does not seek to accurately depict the scene I experienced in Riverside Park. Instead, the themes are treated abstractly, as musical characters living in their own world. However, the feelings the moment in the park instilled in me have influenced my piece. I juxtapose the influences of the calming grandeur of the Hudson River with the frenetic bustling of the city streets and imposing monumentality of New York’s skyline that surrounds the park.