...unseen in air...
The title comes from the Walt Whitman poem The Mystic Trumpeter. That poem celebrates the unseen divine power of human imagination and vision. It is an invisible force that finds form and substance through the physical act of creating.
Unseen in air was composed soon after the death of my father, a period of grief that has resonated with many thoughts of the meaning of unseen. We often measure the substance of the invisible through our emotions or feelings. Music is unseen and yet it is felt, not unlike a memory. I imagine existence itself to be unseen, and the greatest gift of existence is an invisible complex emotion – love, the force binding us all. The work is a tribute to the unseen, and is dedicated to the loving memory of my father.
I imagined the violin solo as a curious seeker of the unseen and unknowable. The violin initiates the question, the orchestra amplifies and responds with variations of the question. The answers only lead to more questions and greater mysteries. The longing for an answer grows more urgent, until by the end the exacerbation transforms into a wily, manic, and desperate exchange that ultimately gives way to resigned acceptance. The mystery is unknowable.
Nancy Brown Negley commissioned this work in memory of her mother Alice Pratt Brown for Robin Zeh, violin and the Pit Stop Players, directed by Joshua Rosenblum.
I n s t r u m e n t a t i o n
Flute, Clarinet in Bb
Horn in F, Trumpet in C, Tenor Trombone
Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello & Bass