• 3+pic.2+ca.3(cbcl)+bcl.2+cbn/4.2Ctpt+Apictpt([Ctpt]).2+btbn.1/timp.4perc/hp[=2].pf/str
  • 17 min
    • 10th May 2022, Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany
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Programme Note

I. ...words of the sea...
II. ...the ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea...
III. ...beyond the genius of the sea...
IV. ...mountainous atmospheres of sky and sea... (Homage to Debussy)

Composer note:
The four movements of Words of the Sea are diverse and distinct, each undertaking to deal with the evocations prompted by each of the particular Wallace Stevens fragments. Despite their differences, in fleeting whispers or proclamations, the four movements/scenes reminisce about and relate to one another, resulting in a labyrinth of deeply interdependent connections.

The work is written to feature many of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal players through a series of brief solos as well as by intricate orchestration which results in distinct concertino groups momentarily rising to the foreground.

Wallace Stevens's poem forced me to see and imagine the sound of words of the sea, to appreciate an ocean's ever-hooded tragic-gestured nature, to imagine vast atmospheres — to contemplate what is beyond the genius of the sea. All of these thoughts were prompting and nurturing this music.

I yearn to reflect in my own singing the ways that listening has changed me. I write music that craves a listener. I do not write for an "audience," I request intimate contact or attempt to speak in my music to a listener — whomever that listener may be.

Not concerned with "commercial success," I am concerned with speaking honestly, which will hopefully (not necessarily) lead me toward the truth, which is the quest of art. I speak with the only voice I have " my voice " but what I say, musically, is prompted by a spirit of generosity and honesty.

— Augusta Read Thomas


Words of the Sea for Orchestra: I. …Words of the Sea...
Words of the Sea for Orchestra: II. …The Ever-Hooded, Tragic-Gestured Sea…
Words of the Sea for Orchestra: III. …Beyond the Genius of the Sea…
Words of the Sea for Orchestra: IV. …Mountainous Atmospheres of Sky and Sea - Homage to Debussy

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