on the blossoming of dualities
on the blossoming of dualities came to fruition during a meeting with the incredible Zoe Dongas at Classen Coffee Company in Oklahoma City during my final week of graduate school. We wanted to come up with a ten minute set for her upcoming recital. After talking about many ideas, we arrived at the concept of blossoming. I wanted to tie in the idea of juxtaposition, especially the part of decision-making that ultimately affects our lives. Zoe came up with the text for the first movement, and I wrote the remaining texts. These texts are highly-personal, as they represent my thoughts on celebration, perseverance, and reflection. Many thanks to Zoe for this collaboration and agreeing to go on this musical journey of figuring out what it’s all about.
This piece depicts the concept of the human condition by raising questions such as “Who am I?,” “Why am I here?,” or “How do I fit into this world?” These questions develop into a dualistic idea of what our lives are meant to do. In a world of extremes, this piece is meant to show that we are all good at the beginning of our lives. It is up to us to determine how we want to blossom.
Every human has dignity and worth, and that is reason for celebration. Celebrate.
Simply put, we should celebrate the amount of potential all of us behold. Perhaps in a newborn human, there is a singularity of pure energy that has the potential to explode in them to become extraordinary human beings. Pair this idea with the concept of dignity and we have the potential to change the world.
There is a difference between moving a mountain and climbing one.
“As fallible, mortal beings, the possibility of us actually moving a mountain is impossible. If mountains are difficult problems or struggles in our lives we are usually presented with two options- force it away/moving it out or putting forth the effort to surmount it. We can try to push away our problems (which is probably not healthy), or we can buck up and climb our mountain.”
Tying this into the theme of the piece calls the listener to reflect on what they do when their life comes to a mountain. The ever flowing nature of the music gives an feeling reminiscent of an Appalachian folktale-like warning of putting off things that will instead make us grow. Are we going to turn around and avoid our problems, or are we going to climb this mountain to reach the summit of our potential? It’s up to us to decide.
In this final movement, I used each word to take the listener from literal to conceptual definitions by placing them carefully in a palindrome of homonyms. The undulating and weighted music highlights the theme of duality by always having a response to the question. The sole cello line is meant to convey solitude, but then it becomes a piece of a bigger canonic texture in the clarinet and voice. This is much like us becoming a piece in something bigger than we are. The innermost section of the movement calls to the listener to reflect on how they define each word. The structure of the piece arrives at a mirror point when reflexion causes the previously-heard text to return with similar musical material. Each new word breathes new life into the piece by meaning new things while still sounding the same. The darkness and uncertainty in the beginning is met with light and optimism at the end.
Because we as humans are wired to derive a conceptual idea from tangible things, we tend to look at our lives with dual perspectives. Our life-long duel of interpreting “denotative versus connotative” meanings gives us the chance to measure our own definition of peace. At the end of the day, our souls remind us that our decisions have consequences. At the end of this piece, we are reminded to take heed of those same consequences to slow down, reflect, and wait.