Duration: c. 23:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Gorilla Salad Productions / Score available directly from the composer or via Shattinger Music
Cost: Score and Parts (Rental) - $495.00 | Score (Purchase) - $90.00
1. Ceremony of Innocence
3. The Generous Wrath of Simple Men
4. The Loving Machinery of Justice
5. Spiritus Mundi (epilogue)
Flute I-II-III-IV (Flute IV doubles Piccolo)
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
Bb Bass Clarinet I-II
Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:
- Bass Drum
- Crystal Glasses
- Cymbals (china, suspended)
- Mahler Hammer
- Thunder Sheet
- Tubular Bells
None discovered thus far.
Ecstatic Waters is music of dialectical tension - a juxtaposition of contradictory or opposing musical and extra-musical elements and an attempt to resolve them. The five connected movements hint at a narrative that touches upon naiveté, divination, fanaticism, post-human possibilities, anarchy, order, and the Jungian collective unconscious. Or, as I have described it more colloquially: W.B. Yeats meets Ray Kurzweil in the Matrix.
The overall title, as well as "Ceremony of Innocence" and "Spiritus Mundi" are taken from poetry of Yeats ("News for the Delphic Oracle," and "The Second Coming"), and his personal, idiosyncratic mythology and symbolism of spiraling chaos and looming apocalypse figured prominently in the genesis of the work. Yet in a nod to the piece's structural reality - as a hybrid of electronics and living players - Ecstatic Waters also references the confrontation of unruly humanity with the order of the machine, as well as the potential of a post-human synthesis, in ways inspired by Kurzweil.
The first movement, Ceremony of Innocence, begins as a pure expression of exuberant joy in unapologetic Bb Major in the Celesta and Vibraphone. The movement grows in momentum, becoming perhaps too exuberant - the initial simplicity evolves into a full-throated brashness bordering on dangerous arrogance and naiveté, though it retreats from the brink and ends by returning to the opening innocence.
In Mvt. II, Augurs, the unsustainable nature of the previous Ceremony becomes apparent, as the relentless tonic of Bb in the crystal water glasses slowly diffuses into a microtonal cluster, aided and abetted by the trumpets. Chorale--like fragments appear, foretelling the wrathful self-righteousness of Mvt. III. The movement grows inexorably, spiraling wider and wider, like Yeat's gyre, until "the center cannot hold," and it erupts with supreme force into The Generous Wrath of Simple Men.
Mvt. III is deceptive, musically contradicting what one might expect of its title. While it erupts at the outset with overwhelming wrath, it quickly collapses into a relentless rhythm of simmering 16th notes. Lyric lines and pyramids unfold around this, interrupted briefly by the forceful anger of a chorale, almost as if trying to drown out and deny anything but its own existence. A moment of delicate lucidity arrives amidst this back-and-forth struggle, but the chorale ultimately dominates, subsuming everything, spiraling out of control, and exploding.
The Loving Machinery of Justice brings machine-like clarity and judgment. Subtle, internal gyrations between atonality and tonality underpin the dialogue between lyric melody (solo Clarinet and Oboe) and mechanized accompaniment (Bassoons). An emphatic resolution in Ab minor concludes the movement, floating seamlessly into the epilogue, Spiritus Mundi. Reprising music from Mvt. I, this short meditative movement reconciles and releases the earlier excesses.
-Program Note by Steven Bryant
- Audio CD: Youngstown State University (Stephen L. Gage, conductor) -to be released on the NAXOS Wind Band Classics label in August 2012
None discovered thus far.
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Alchemy in Silent Spaces
- Anthem (Bryant)
- Axis Mundi
- Chester Leaps In (see Parody Suite)
- Concerto for Wind Ensemble
- Ecstatic Fanfare 2012
- Ecstatic Waters
- First Light
- Impercynations (see Parody Suite)
- Interruption Overture
- Marbled Midnight Mile, The
- MetaMarch (see Parody Suite)
- Million Suns at Midnight, A
- Parody Suite
- Radiant Joy
- Suite Dreams (see Parody Suite)
- Wings that Work