Symphony Northwest

Symphony Northwest

I. Mountain
II. Forest
III. River
IV. Ocean

(Note: Movements are design in such a way that they may be played together or as independent pieces.)

Composed 2009-2010. Length: 25 minutes. Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (second doubling English horn), 2 B-flat clarinets (second doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 3 horns, 2 B-flat trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion, strings.

Notes from the Composer:

The extra-musical inspiration for Symphony Northwest has been drawn from the unique and colorful geography and ecology of my home state of Washington and the surrounding area, an area known collectively as the Pacific Northwest. Each of the movements depicts a particular ecological feature of the Pacific Northwest, namely mountains, forests, rivers, and the ocean.

Movement I—Mountain [Listen]

There are several major mountain ranges that lie within the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascade, Rocky and Olympic mountain ranges. Famous peaks in the area include Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. The mountains of this area have provided inspiration for several other composers, notably Alan Hovhaness (Symphony No. 2: Mysterious Mountain, Symphony No. 50: Mount St. Helens, Symphony No. 66: Hymn to Glacier Peak) and Gregory Short (Mount Takhoma). This movement represents awe at the sheer size and majesty of mountains.

Movement II—Forest [Listen]

The Pacific Northwest is one of only a few places on earth to contain a temperate rain forest. The slow second movement, Forest, draws its inspiration from these dense forests of massive, old-growth evergreen trees, covered by hanging mosses and surrounded by ferns. These forests are quiet, cool, lush, and intensely green places. Even the light itself seems green. The stillness one experiences when deep within one of these ancient forests where many of the trees are well over five hundred years old, gives the illusion that time itself is at a standstill. This movement tries to capture the somber stillness inherent to these forests, as well as exploring the shimmering effect of light filtering through layer upon layer of foliage.

Movement III—River [Listen]

Rivers are a vital part of Pacific Northwest’s ecosystem. The Columbia River, one of the largest in North America, cuts across this region from British Columbia to Oregon. The third movement of the symphony follows the twist and turns of a river as it rushes along its course, crashing into the banks and merging with other streams.

Movement IV—Ocean [Listen]

Ocean, the final movement, is a broadly majestic portrait of the Pacific Ocean, the western border of the Pacific Northwest. The inhabitants of this part of the continent have always been connected to the ocean, and I felt that it would be appropriate to end the symphony with a majestic calm, a musical depiction of the sun setting into the sea.