3,3,3,3 - 4,3,3,1 - Timp + 5 Percussion - Harp - Strings
New England Conservatory Student Composer Orchestra Readings - April 24, 2015 - Jordan Hall
NEC Philharmonia - David Yi, conductor
Celestial Shores is a tone poem that was composed in 2015 for orchestra. It is inspired by one night on my family’s 2014 summer vacation at the beaches of southern Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland.
On August 13th, 2014, my parents and I were returning to our apartment in Ocean City, Maryland from dinner. We decided to make a quick stop at a public beach in Fenwick Island, Delaware because the sky was clear and cloudless. We walked onto the beach, at around ten o’clock that evening, and we were mesmerized by what we saw and heard: a radiant blood moon in the unblemished and starry sky shining and glimmering on the ocean. There were no other people on the beach. The only sounds we heard were of the gentle crashing the ocean’s waves and the mild-blowing winds. It was a phenomenon that had me one with nature.
The picture on the cover page of the score, taken on my phone on the aforementioned date at 10:09 PM, is certainly “worth a thousand words.” However, the only way that I can express and illustrate the beauty and splendor of the sights and sounds we experienced is through the composition of this piece. Celestial Shores was composed in reminiscent awe.
The piece begins almost inaudibly with the roll of a suspended cymbal, which soon grows and lends itself to an oft occurring two-note vibraphone theme, echoed only by a harp, to quietly exhibit subjective sounds of the wind. I found it imperative to not depict the scene by using percussion alone. Whistle tones, key clicks, and drones in the woodwinds and a gradual accumulation of the strings help musically represent the experience. The blood moon is then represented by a solo horn with high, pulsating tremolo in the strings.
During the late summer months on the Delaware and Maryland beaches, a number of hurricanes sweep through the region. Deafening thunder, glaring lightning, and harsh rains result. Having experienced this numerous times at these very beaches, I felt that a fiery “musical storm” in the middle of the piece would contrast well with the previous musical material. As the ‘storm’ calms, the theme of the blood moon suddenly reappears once again, leaving the piece to wander, endeavor, and pursue the time and space to ‘think’ and ‘reflect’, evocative of the brief minutes I had with the landscape at the shore. The piece concludes with a loose (but not exact) retrograde of the opening musical material to bring the piece to its almost inaudible close.
- Celestial Shores