Last year I got one of those nice emails that we composers enjoy where Katy Luo from the Bloomingdale School in NYC asked me to write a piece for their A4TY series. Not only was I excited about writing for these talented kids, but I got to follow in a nice lineage of composers who have written for this series that includes Frederic Rzewski, Caleb Burhans, Elliott Sharp, and Dennis Desantis. And I should add that Katy has worked very hard to make this come together and she really does some incredible work as a champion of new music.
I ended up writing an orchestra piece, and a curious one at that. Like the piece I wrote for Classical Jam, this one also includes possible audience participation. After the Classical Jam gig a few weeks ago I’m now pretty confident that people will want to participate and that the sounds that are produced will be quite captivating.
The piece is called People Coming Together and I wrote it as a response to the Haitian earthquake tragedy that happened earlier this year. I generally don’t like programmatic music, as I generally prefer music that is just music, but I was so moved by so many of the individual stories that I felt compelled to respond in some way. I ended up compiling quite a few stories from folks who suffered through the Haitian earthquake, as well as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Asian Tsunami. The stories are amazing, and range from light humor to the deepest and darkest pathos. Various readers are scattered throughout the hall and read various texts at the same time, creating a babbling texture. The audience can participate in that as well (they’ll have the texts in their programs). The music that frames these text readings is at times lyrical and sweet and then quite noisy and aggressive.