Grounds, Retraced for String Orchestra (2021)

(String Ensemble: min. 16, 14, 12, 10, 8)

Total duration ca. 9'

Single movement work

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The creative exchange I have enjoyed with British artist John Hitchens, creator of the painting which inspired this work, has been one of the great honors of my life. As our friendship, correspondence, and collaboration nears the ten-year mark, we now have created two chains of mutually-inspired paintings and musical compositions. In this case, the Grounds series began with my 2014 string orchestra piece of the same name that was inspired by the John Hitchens’s pastoral surroundings in West Sussex. This musical composition inspired John to create a gorgeous painting called Grounds in 2018. This work is then both a response to John’s sprawling creation, but a sequel to my own years-old composition. The energy and movement inherent both in the lines of John’s painting and in the painterly style of the art (in contrast to much of his work in the past decade) became a point of inspiration in the surging energy that opens my ‘retraced’ sequel and returns throughout. While a painting is a simultaneous experience, the long band of canvas suggests a narrative reading, and so I found that the fields of cool and warm colors  read left to right served as a template for my music’s expansive form, with a bright and airy opening, a darker, subdued section, and a glowing, pulsing conclusion. The fields of West Sussex and the rhododendron jungles of Greenleaves are, for me, spaces of infinite novelty and discovery. Even as the path that this piece traces through them overlaps a few times with the original course I plotted in Grounds, this work examines old land formations from new angles, in new light, in a different season. This work is dedicated to John and Rosy Hitchens and to their friend the photographer Anne Purkiss who has been of transformative assistance to John in his recent endeavors, and another dear friendship to emerge from this creative exchange.

Grounds Hitchens.jpeg

"Grounds" (2018) by John Hitchens, 33"h x 104"w