pheoo THE PHOENIX – Part Two

THE PHOENIX – Chamber Ballet (fall 2003). Arriving at the material with which this music deals (i.e. the events of 9/11) was not a simple process. It involved the suggestion of friends, personal experiences, and the opportunity to compose an orchestral piece for a particular event. I composed THE PHOENIX originally for full orchestra August 14th through September 20th (2002). The Chamber Ballet version was composed a year later. The material is presented through the universality of myth and symbol. After the opening ‘movement’ (‘Clouds of Memory’), THE PHOENIX focuses on ‘transformation’ (‘The Phoenix Awakes’) and return to restful shadows.
In the first movement, ‘Clouds of Memory’, there is lamentation, outrage, and mystery. Gongs and related effects create an atmosphere in which expressive string and woodwind solos create a thick texture of voices. Passionate outbursts intercede. There is a theme created from the mathematical relationship between the two towers (6 feet of separation between the towers translates into two melodies separated by 6 half steps). Eleven ‘power-strokes’ featuring tubular bells and gong occur at the end of the first movement and symbolize the time element involved. There are nine strokes… the Phoenix begins to awake… and two more strokes follow in echo.

The Phoenix Awakes

There are many aspects of the Phoenix myth. In this music my imagination focused on the part of the myth where the Phoenix takes the parent ‘body’ to the ‘Temple in the Sun’ – HELIOPOLIS – to bury it there. The powerful transforming quality of the sun – the source of all life – is what is presented here, in the ensemble — while the SOLO FLUTE takes the role of the myth.

Whereas the orchestral version of THE PHOENIX ends with a huge climax where the City of New York wakes up and dances and there are ‘Ivesian revelries’, fanfares and an exuberant finale, this chamber ballet version returns to restful imaginative shadows… music from the first movement is echoed, transformed into a peaceful setting. The music here reclaims the dark as a place of restfulness and the ‘spring of imagination’.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *