as it burns
In the summer of 2014, I read Cormac McCarthy’s haunting novel, “The Road,” and became fascinated by the book’s depiction of the decay of a society in crisis. I briefly considered creating a piece based on these ideas, but ultimately decided against it, choosing instead to combine and develop a few small ideas from my sketches. Around this time, the nation was rocked by news of violence and unrest from New York and Ferguson, and it became difficult to hear these stories of brutality without being reminded of McCarthy’s bleak tale. As the piece progressed, I began to notice the music taking an unexpected turn. Though I was not attempting to consciously incorporate my feelings on these violent episodes, I could not deny that they seemed to be permeating the work: the menacing character, sense of uncertainty and interruption, and gradual deterioration of musical ideas in the first movement, the sense of mourning and frustration in the second.
As I neared the completion of the piece, it became clear to me that there was most certainly a subject matter to it, though not one that I had originally planned. Sometimes works are an expression of artistic intention; other times they are a journey of self-discovery. I decided on the title, “As it Burns,” as both a reflection of the violence that is far too prevalent in our society, and a tribute to the passion and perseverance of those who continue struggle for justice and equality.
Concert Premiere: October 28th, 2015, by the University of Texas New Music Ensemble, Dan Welcher conducting, Bates Recital Hall, Austin, TX.