As I Escape, the Water Calms
Instrumentation: Saxophone Trio
In 2015 I wrote a piece called he said there was no sound for the Rogue Trio in response to the school shootings that had become an epidemic. Since then, shootings have not only continued to happen they have become larger with death counts on the rise. Every single time, it gets worse. After the shooting in Orlando at the Pulse Night Club, I sat down to write a piece completely in tears. I never made it past the first page. They have taken our safe spaces. As an openly gay man, the one place where I am supposed to live with zero fear of persecution became one of my biggest fears. When will it end?
On October 1st 2017, a man decided to end the lives of 58 individuals at the Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived about five minutes from the strip. I have been to the Mandalay Bay at least 10 times. My younger sister, who I have had a strained relationship with for the past few months was supposed to go to a concert at the Mandalay Bay on October 7th 2017, a concert that could have easily been the week before.
The cover art and subject of this piece seem to be conflicting in inspiration. About four days before the shooting, I had been asked by the saxophone trio Lotus to compose a new work for saxophone trio. Having worked with Justin Rollefson in the past on he said there was no sound, I had to say yes. Normally when I compose a new work, I sit down with the commissioner, and I ask them what they want the piece to be about. I try to find common ground between us in areas that have affected us in ways that will become a more meaningful creative experience. We surfaced on nature, hiking, rivers, and waterfalls. It took me back to an experience I had earlier this summer at Snoqualmie Falls, here in Washington about 45 minutes east of Seattle.
We had been hanging out when he randomly had the inclination to get out of the city. It was already about 3 pm, so he decided to take an impromptu trip to Snoqualmie and asked me to come along. Having never been, I jumped at the chance to see what had been described as one of the most beautiful sights in the region. The way the colors are so much more vibrant at that time of day. If you go at the right time, you can see rainbows. The water hitting the rocks below is incredibly calming. At the time, I desperately needed an escape from my normal day-to-day life.
As I reflect back on that experience I just sometimes want to escape to nature and live a calm existence while listening to the constant sound of a waterfall. This piece is my response to Mandalay Bay, and how I hope to continue living my life in spite of the true evil that exists in the world.
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