My third piano trio is inspired by our cosmic home the Milky Way (many of my pieces are motivated by some relationship to science and observation). In this trio I’ve used principles from math and physics to guide its musical ideas, shapes, and language. And the individual movements of the piece are each in their own way a direct reflection on specific galactic features.
The eponymous first movement, ‘Spiral galaxy,’ begins with a fragmented series of notes that wind outward from a single starting point, growing gradually into an extended musical line, followed by a spiraling aria. The second movement, ‘Galactic Halo,’ musically describes the sphere of stars that radiates out from the galaxy. This movement is concerned with the slowly evolving colors and static canopy of the firmament, held up in the extended sonorities of the trio instruments. The last movement, ‘Sagittarius A*,’ is an homage to the great black hole in the middle of the Milky Way, and for this I’ve written a swirling fugue that continually pulls downward. At the end of the movement comes the final draw of its gravity into loud disintegration, and then finally, the quiet serenity of oblivion.
On a more (literally) poetic level, I was moved in writing this trio by the idea of the spiral itself, and how that shape is a metaphor for the growing connections (and complications) of our lives. Lines from two poems occur to me—one from Yeats, ‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre,’ and this from Rilke:
I live my life in expanding rings
that pull across over all existence.
I may not complete the last one’s ending, but I will try.
‘Spiral Galaxy’ was commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music for the Morgenstern Trio with the sponsorship of Boyer Rickel, and there is no doubt in my mind that the community that supports the series inspired me to write this piece.
Sponsored by: Boyer Rickel