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Mystic Illusion
for fl, cl, bn, pf, perc, strings
(2000)

 

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The idea for this piece came after an experience I had while falling asleep before the major earthquake of 1999 in Taiwan. First, while in the twilight of consciousness, I experienced a very unusual feeling of religious peace and acceptance. Then, only minutes later, I was shaken awake by the tragic 9/21 earthquake. The proximity of these two experiences brought into sharp focus a contrast between that feeling of innocence and inner peace, and the random and meaningless cruelty of the outside world. Later, while walking through some of the places that were hardest hit by the earthquake with a person who lives there, I couldn't help but remember that unusual peaceful feeling I had and how easily it had been shattered. Though such a peace seemed unreal at the time, I could only hope that the victims would soon find their own peace and acceptance of what had happened to them.

Musically, this piece begins with a rather high and light ostinato of piano and vibraphone over which is placed a melody for solo violin and viola. Eventually, low sounds from the bassoon and cello interrupt and initiate a series of contrasting (quarter-note) triplet figures that increase tension and a feeling of conflict. The tempo increases and the piece develops in an aggressive way. After a final burst of drums and tutti syncopations, the contrasting triplet idea comes back as dense layers of sound that gradually fade, revealing a simple clarinet solo. This solo leads up to the final portion of the piece, which is a restatement of ideas from the opening section but in an even more peaceful and idealized manner.

(duration ca. 7:45)

NOTE:
For a good balance of sound, this piece should be played with a small string section (ca. 54321--or less). It is also possible to perform this piece with one person per string part.