Serenity, Stillness, Solitude (String 4tet)
In the Fall of 2010, I had just come out of a period of a very challenging year in my life - many things happened in my personal life that tested the limits of my emotional capacity. To get a break from everything, I took a short trip on my own to go backpacking in Yellowstone National Park. During that trip, I took a nine-mile hike in the back country to Heart Lake, where I camped overnight on the shore. During that overnight, I took the photograph that’s on the front cover of this score.
I did not realize at the time that I was about to enter into a long period of depression - a long stretch of emotional tumult. During that period of my life, I often reflected back to my trip to Yellowstone and the visit to Heart Lake.
While I was camping by the lake, I took a long period at sunset to sit and reflect. I was miles away from any other people, and the animal life around the area was settled in for their night, too. Sitting by the lake, I allowed myself to take in all my surroundings. The first thing that I noticed was how peaceful and still everything was. Then I realized that, even in the stillness, it wasn’t perfectly still - there was still the movement of nature: waves from the wind, insect touching down on the surface of the lake, fish swimming after food, the occasional waterfowl gliding across the water. Even with this activity, it was still peaceful - the serenity and solitude were comforting.
This piece is my musical reflection of that trip. The music never gets frenetic, rather it maintains a sense of peaceful stillness. The beauty of including microtonal harmony is the added brilliance of the altered relationships between the notes. Rather than causing harsh dissonance, the alterations offer an additional “sparkle” between the notes that brings the ear on a journey of reflection.