Upward Journey

Shakuhachi, koto, flute, harp, string orchestra

2011

Upward Journey blends elements of Asian music with Western tradition and is in a sense a view of Asian culture through Western eyes. The piece features the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese flute made from bamboo, as well as koto, a Japanese plucked string instrument, along with their Western orchestral counterparts, the flute and harp. Solo cello is also featured and is invited to imitate the style of an erhu, an Asian bowed string instrument, thus creating a connection between the two music-cultures. The title of the work is intentionally left open to interpretation. As I was writing, I was imagining a group of travelers journeying up a mountain, and the burst of euphoria followed by calm that concludes the piece is my way of representing the feeling of reaching the summit and looking at the world below. However, I urge listeners to interpret the piece in their own ways and let the journey take them where it will.

Premiered by the Wartburg College Chamber Orchestra in 2012, featuring Dr. Eric Wachmann on shakuhachi.