Wind, Water, Stone

wind quintet and percussion
(2023) 13′

Though I often wish I was, I’m not the sort of composer who can write music that is entirely abstract. By that I mean that I typically need some kind of extra-musical inspiration as I start writing notes on the page, something to spur my imagination. This inspiration comes in all kinds of forms, and for me it’s often found in an image (imagined or otherwise) or in poetry. This piece, Wind, Water, Stone, managed to find its impetus in a specific place. While in the sketching stages of composition, still unsure what kind of piece this would be, I spent a few days hiking through Maui’s Haleakalā crater, taking in the beauty of its stark and barren landscape. I’d occasionally catch a glimpse through gaps in the crater wall of the view far below, where streams meet the ocean. The lush landscapes down there couldn’t have looked more different from the rugged, rocky terrain up high. And yet these two climates are connected. Over eons, those green valleys were carved out of lifeless rock by wind and water, and eventually the stone surface I stood on would erode away toward the sea as well.

This was plenty of imagery to get the piece going, and so I started at the beginning, writing music to evoke a parched, jagged landscape. Various stones are used as percussion instruments, and the winds often play abrasive, harsh tones. As time passes, these dangerous sounds give way to more consonance, more lyricism and more fluid lines. By the end of the journey, the dissonance has dissolved entirely, with cascading phrases leading to a brief moment of serenity.

Wind, Water, Stone was commissioned by Chamber Music Hawaiʻi and is dedicated to this group of dedicated and inspired musicians who help the arts flourish in the islands.

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