In Beauty, symphony orchestra, full score
for symphony orchestra, legal size full score only
duration: c. 14 minutes (two movements)
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See also In Beauty, complete materials.
This piece, In Beauty, was written as a commission by a remarkable amateur, community, orchestra, the Henderson Symphony Orchestra of Henderson Nevada, led by Taras Krysa, director of orchestras as UNLV where I was teaching music theory and composition. I was asked to compose a piece that would relate, somehow, to the indigenous peoples of the Southwestern United States. Since moving to Nevada, I had visited the Navajo Nation several times and become quite interested in Navajo art which I found both wonderfully successful as art and equally so as an expression of metaphysics, particularly the concept of Hózhó – an experience that combines beauty, harmony and the balance of contradictions. I was not knowledgeable about Navajo music but also was not interested in evoking any particular musical idiom in this composition. Another approach came to mind when I recalled that Morton Feldman used to discuss compositional elements, gestures, asymmetry of form, etc., in his music in connection with the antique Turkish rugs he loved and collected. And so I decided to try composing a piece in which the formal design and all of the individual musical elements were created in response to features I observed in two particular Navajo rug patterns. Because each rug design, like so much Navajo art, expresses the concept of Hózhó, it was possible to compose a piece in two movements, played without interruption, in which each movement is primarily concerned with a particular rug, but both movements, and the entire form, explore the formal ideal of Hózhó.