- Mvt. 3 - North 8:46
- Mvt. 4 - South 10:58
Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs. Anxiety and fear are cousins, yet not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one. Imagination is essential for composing. To me, too much imagination can be harrowing. And, a life that is harrowing has no peace.
As a programmatic composer, writing music for the last few years on topics of American political acrimony, world health pandemics, and the like, I have my own challenges with anxiety and lack of peace. There are times when I envision getting away – both metaphorically and literally — to an island for some period of time. My goal would be to detoxify from the world’s infiltration of my life’s (my mind’s) equilibrium and its sense of peace.
In the Renaissance, there was a theory of the interconnectedness of mankind that must have come into sharp contrast with some other thinkers who sought isolation, wishing to truly form islands out of these continents of humanity. In today’s always-on, always-present, always-on-call society, such a yearning for isolation in one’s search for peace seemed an appropriate thematic topic. This commission to write a viola sonata was an opportunity for just such a search.
In the four movements of Viola Sonata Nº1, I explore what it might be like to live, at separate times, on each of four different imaginary islands. I destined them one for each of the directions on the compass. Of course, the east eventually becomes west, just as the north eventually transitions to the south. Thus, geographically, there’s really no escaping into true isolationism. Metaphorically, in my mind, each of these respite islands offers a chance to be reflective and take inventory of one’s life in four different “getaways.” Confiding in my Islands helped me to remember that problems shared are problems “halved.”
To various degrees, unsettledness and perplexity inhabit each of the first three movements. Ultimately, the fourth movement — island — enables me to reach the peace which I have been seeking. I found this peace from exploring and re-purposing my life, as I, if only mentally, lived in solitude, on my Islands.
Blessed are the introverts, for they shall inherit the land.
Earth, stream, and tree encircled by sea
Waves sweep the sand from my islands.
My sunsets fade.
Field and glade wait only for rain
With grain after grain, love erodes my life
High-weathered walls which fend off the tide
Cradle the wind…
…on my islands.
— King Crimson