Concert One - For the Record
SOLI's recording project of commissioned works continues with David Heuser's Catching Updrafts and Alex Gardner's Crows. Volume one of this CD project will be nearly complete. Come and hear the last phase of these great pieces before we commit them to "tape"!
Monday, December 6th
2009 N.W. Military Highway
San Antonio, TX 78213
Tuesday, December 7th
Trinity University, Ruth Taylor Recital Hall
One Trinity Place
San Antonio, TX 78212
Pre-concert talk at 7 pm!
Concert at 7:30 pm!
Reception and meet the artists afterwards.
Hawks, eagles and other raptors keep aloft by riding rising columns of air called thermals or by using updrafts of air caused when winds strike, and rise over, objects such as mountains, which deflect the wind upwards. Migrating raptors use thermals and updrafts along mountain ridges to gain altitude, slowly circling upwards. Then, with some innate knowledge of the right time, they leave the rising air stream and coast downwards over the ridge, expending as little energy as possible, until they reach the next thermal or updraft.
I find the image conjured up by this kind of flight to be a rich metaphor for the human experience. I imagined a bird at the pinnacle of its "static soar," expending no energy to stay aloft. If we endow the creature with human emotions, we can imagine the conflict between wanting the hold on to that moment for as long as possible and knowing that we must go forward if we want to survive, even though there is no certainty that there will be another updraft to catch.
This, then is the metaphor from which Catching Updrafts came out of. From one point of view, our lives are a series of high points, when we have caught updrafts, and yet we must leave each one behind eventually (or we will stagnate and "die"), coasting downwards and hoping to catch another one in the future, knowing that there may not be another one waiting down the road, aware that this may be as good as it ever gets. In some ways, leaving those special moments is a matter of survival; in another way, it is a leap of faith.
Catching Updrafts was written for Soli Chamber Ensemble with the help of a Faculty Research Award from the University of Texas at San Antonio. It is dedicated to my wife, Cherie, for riding through bad times and pdrafts alike with me.
“My house is the red earth; it could be the center of the world. I’ve heard New York, Paris or Tokyo called the center of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble. You could drive by and miss it. Radio waves can obscure it. Words cannot construct it, for there are some sounds left to sacred wordless form…”
“We fly into the body and we fly out, changed by the sun, by crows who manipulate the borders of reason…”
“I see the flash of silver breaths on the wing of the sky, and hear the explosion of a thousand horses running…”
“I think of the lush stillness of the end of a world, sung into place by singers and the rattle of turtles in the dark morning…”
“Invisible fish swim this ghost ocean now described by waves of sound, by water-worn rock. Soon the fish will learn to walk. Then humans will come ashore and paint dreams on the drying stone. Then later, much later, the ocean floor will be punctuated by Chevy trucks, carrying the dreamers’ descendants, who are going to the store.”
Poetry by Joy Harjo, from “Secrets from the Center of the World” (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1989) and “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky” (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994).
Crows is dedicated to SOLI Chamber Ensemble. Inspired by the writings of poet Joy Harjo, each movement is based upon a short excerpt that describes some aspect of life in the desert southwest. These excerpts serve as a starting point for the creation of five musical landscapes.
In Native American tradition, the crow represents the gateway to the supernatural, possessing the ability to see simultaneously past, present and future. While writing this piece I often wondered how these birds (which appear often in Harjo’s poetry) might experience the journey through these musical expanses from their special perspective.
Click here to download the program in Adobe PDF format.