Jonathan Graybill: "Route Potomac"
Stone and Twilight
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble
Duration: 20 minutes
Route Potomac is loosely cyclic, in that the opening melody of the first movement is used in each of the following movements. The entire piece began as a geographical work, something I tend to write whenever I move to new locations. In the final product, the piece holds only vague references to what was originally planned as a more literal work. However, the original premises can still be found. The idea was to write a multi-movement work built around the Potomac River, and its importance in historical development, and as a vital tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Flashback’s brutal and militaristic nature can be traced to the river’s involvement in the American Civil War and also that is flows by Washington, D.C. where rhetoric and decisions of war transpire. The image I had in mind for Stone and Twilight was the river placidly flowing by the Tidal Basin area of Washington, D.C. during the evening hours in summer. Against this image is the contrast of colossal monuments of stone to influential leaders in cultural development that are illuminated against the evening sky. There are three “dream sequences” in the work. In these sequences, the ensemble leaves behind the ordered world to exist in a psychological or dream dimension. These sections expand each time and eventually engulf the work, or perhaps everyday life. The violent ending awakens the listener from this inner world and pulls hem back to reality. This ending also serves as a reminder to the violent ending to many of those whose monuments reside around the Tidal Basin. Rush Hour is a highly energetic movement that explores the ensemble in contrasts between blocked vertical sonorities against longer horizontal melodies. Seven of the pitches of the melody from movement one are compressed into the quick, ascending gesture that opens the work, followed by exploration of the rhythmic motives from the opening gesture of the same movement. The form is ABABCBA, with a coda that encapsulates many of the ideas of the movement.
-Program Note by Jonathan Graybill