How the old mountains drip with Sunset
Having spent six years as a child growing up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, I am extremely familiar with the awe-inspiring experience of a mountain sunset. The dense and breathtaking imagery in Emily Dickinson's poem, "How the old Mountains Drip with Sunset," vividly reminds me of the countless nights I spent in my Colorado backyard, my family and I watching the dying sun dip below the mountain peaks.
Though my work does not follow the form of Dickinson’s poem, it does draw its motivic and thematic elements from her words. There is a musical motive for the mountains, a theme for the sunset, cluster chords representing the beautifully intense and glowing sunlight, and even an emphasis on the notes D-E as a musical tribute to Emily Dickinson. The piece starts with a musical depiction of a sunset in the Rockies and then dies away into a more gentle and understated “night music.” In the absence of any redeeming sunlight the night music takes a sinister turn. Darkness begins to envelop the piece. Sunlight eventually returns in the form of a clarinet solo, and the subsequent sunrise, in all of its resplendent glory, restores color and beauty to the world.