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for full orchestra, 5 mins

The title of this work provides both the source and inspiration for this composition.  Puer Natus est Nobis is the Introit chant for the Christmas Day Mass.  Although this work is not religiously inspired or influenced by the text of the chant, the melody of the chant forms the basis of my composition.  I took each note of the melody - sometimes I took a group of notes when the original chant notation suggested an important grouping of pitches - and imagined it as an object.  Equally important, I imagined each object as being perceived from a great distance, like a star, which in reality is a massive force of energy, but for us is just a pinpoint in the sky.  My work, then, in composing with these distant objects was to pull them closer to the listener so that one can observe their interiors.  What we experience though is not simply the interior of each but their uniqueness.  This is particularly important when experiencing repeated pitches.  Following my metaphor, what seems exactly the same from a distance turns out to be quite original when brought under the microscope.


The second part of my title - zu irgendeiner Zeit - is also the title of a short story by German author, Marie Luise Kaschnitz.  The narrator begins by stating, "At some point, in some way, one has to realize...that the existence of man is a tragic existence."  She then relates a story of an acquaintance who is young, superficial, and on track to having a very successful career.  While doing an internship with a Notary, he is sent on an assignment to inventory the paintings of a recently deceased woman who had lived an isolated and unusual life.  In the course of the inventory, he discovers that all of her paintings are self-portraits, frequently depicting herself as a child, in different, often disturbing, nightmarish settings.  They form, in this sense, a series of recastings of the same object - in this case, the artist's personal interior is explored - similar to what I have tried to achieve in my composition.


Most important though is the young acquaintance's momentary personal transformation while cataloguing these paintings.  Through the artist's multi-dimensional expression of the condition of her existence, he comes to have great sympathy for her, to love her, and begins to see himself in her.  The fixity of his assumptions about this woman, which gave him the ability to differentiate himself from her, is destroyed as he is engulfed in a detailed portrayal of her interior life.  Suddenly, he experiences existence as tragic, filled with resonance of another's suffering, but also recognizes that a tragic existence is one filled with human dignity, and in this sense is the only happy life one can have.


My musical objects, though not portraying the human condition, certainly attempt to challenge assumptions, creating identities and then portraying them in new, unexpected ways.  I push to create a sound world where listeners observe this other external existence with non-judgment and moments of resonance.  I imagine it as a model for interacting with others in the real world - a model that I believe would move us toward a society with a greater respect for human dignity, human possibility, and understanding.

The work was commissioned by the La Jolla Symphony in 2004 and premiered in 2005 in La Jolla, California by the orchestra.

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