for oboe (or soprano sax) and string orchestra (2012/2016)
Original version for oboe and string trio also available.
Duration: 12 minutes
solo oboe and string orchestra (min. 220.127.116.11.1)
An Invocation was commissioned by oboist Joshua Hall, a friend and colleague from the Hartt School of the University of Hartford and a student of Bert Lucarelli. The request came in the summer of 2011 with the information that this new work be a companion piece to Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F major. I was initially very excited to write the piece but work proceeded slowly through the fall. As the deadline of a February performance loomed, I grew less excited and more and more frustrated. It was until I came across a poem by Jeffery Beam, one of my favorite poets. Then inspiration struck.
This is the second work I've written to Jeffery's poetry. I find his work evocative and mysterious, but always emotional. His lengthy poem "An Invocation" in particular inspired me this time. It is a litany of half statements and half responses, full of color, scent, and imagery. His lines invoke the power of nature, each of our human senses, and our collective capacity for wonder and curiosity. The poem begins:
From cedar’s green feathers cedar’s red odor
From moss’s cool fever earthworm’s glowing
From pitch-pine's field-taking pitch-pine's black tarring
From the heel-worn path eye-light roaming
In these first lines Jeffery surrounds us with so much sensory information: the complimentary colors of green and red, the smell of cedar and pine trees towering above us, the touch of the cool moss and a worn path underneath us. In other lines, Jeffery teases the ear with jumping trout, whirring cicada, and dancing thunder; our taste buds with persimmons, wild carrots, and pecans.
Throughout his text, there are glimpses of natural majesty, both large and small. The lines contrast flashes of happiness with moments of melancholia and with other moments of yearning, to which I react in my own An Invocation.
Premiere of Oboe Quartet Version:
Joshua Hall, oboe
Annalise Ohse, violin, Matt Primm, viola, and Elizabeth Vysin, cello
Unitarian Society of Hartford, Hartford, CT
February 25, 2012
Premiere of Oboe and String Orchestra:
Beth Sanders, oboe
Austin Symphony Orchestra; Peter Bay, conductor
Dell Hall, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX
February 26, 2016