Duration: 9 minutes
For Nobuyoshi Yasuda and the UW-Eau Claire Symphony Orchestra
In the span of nine minutes, Nor Height, Nor Depth unleashes the taut drama of a symphony, with the kinetic energy of an overture. Opening with a brash and resonant G-major chord, harmony in the upper strings begins to unfold over accelerating and decelerating murmurs between violas and cellos. Upon a culminating tutti, symmetrically opposed intervallic ascents and descents in flutes and clarinets accompany an emergent melody in the oboe that ultimately blossoms in ripe fruition with the entire orchestra accelerating toward an explosive allegro. Over a multi-layering of passagework in the strings, woodwinds and brass take turns at a foreground that swells toward a climax of tragic proportion. After a brief detour in a seeming nether-world of muted strings and woodwinds that explore an obtuse and abstract harmony, principal thematic material emerges and wends its way toward its combustible and cataclysmic destination.
While the writing of St. Paul is the source of the title, I was drawn to the extremes inherent in these words. They seem to capture in my imagination the sorrows and failures of the first decade of the 21st Century. At the same time, they imply the possibility of love and cooperation even in the face of tragedy. This work represents to me a sonic rumination on that possibility: that in the face of war, violence, and the effects of climate change, we—like the central motives in Nor Height, Nor Depth—can endure despite context.
Concert Premiere: May 6, 2012 in Eau Claire, WI.