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Banyan

orchestra (2008)

Live recording—6.01.12
Chicago Composers Orchestra
Matthew Kasper, conductor


instrumentation

2.2.2.2/4.2.2.1/timp. 2 perc/hp. pno/strings


details

Duration: 7 minutes
Premiere: June 1, 2012
Chicago Composers Orchestra at Ruth Page Theater, Chicago, IL


program note

It is no surprise that there are numerous stories and mythologies associated with the Banyan tree. In Hindu culture, the Banyan tree brings wishes into reality, while in the Philippines it is believed to house spirits and demons, and in Guam it is also host to an assortment of magical creatures. “Banyan” was originally the word for “merchant” in the Gujarati language; the Portuguese used the word to refer to Hindu merchants who conducted their business under the shade of these trees, and in time the word came to refer to the tree itself.

Banyan trees interest me because of their clearly visible root structure. As the tree grows, the roots connect and gradually form the trunk of the tree, often enveloping a host tree in the process. In this composition for orchestra my intention was to create a tapestry of interconnecting lines and structures which expand and contract in density and shape, but that are clearly related to the overall musical concept of the work. Much of the material is like the tree roots that are visible from above the ground, but every so often there is a hint of the unseen, vast structure of support beneath. The musical lines intertwine, flowing into and out of one another like passing clouds of sound, until they unite into a loud, rhythmic climax, and finally end in a calm that for me evokes beams of light funneling through branches.


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