My inspiration for Cleansing Waters comes from the environment, and my strong wish that we take care of our planet. I learned about a natural water recycling process known as The Living Machine, and made a musical realization of the way water is purified by filtering it through plants and bacteria. I wrote Cleansing Waters in memory of Alex Chun, who devoted many hours as a student to this worthy project, and the work was premiered at a memorial service for Alex held at The Living Machine facility of Oberlin College in Ohio. The piece is dedicated to all those involved in operating this wonderful ecological venture. More information about the Living Machine is here.
The watery music that I came up with relies on waves of sound being produced by wind instruments and the piano. At first, the winds have calm melodies and the piano pearls of sound, with soft dissonances suggesting a slight muddiness to the water. Later, turbulence builds up to cascading waterfalls, the water's dirtiness revealed by dark, thick, dense harmonies. Then a recycling process occurs, with the earlier music being inverted: the calm melodies are now in the piano, and the pearls of sound come from the winds. Finally, the process of cleansing the waters is completed by a serene resolution of the music.
In this performance, I'm joined by three fantastic wind players: Lindsay Leach-Sparks, Stanislav Golovin, and Todd Gaffke.