Observing Peace

for marimba solo

Japanese marimba player Akiko Matsuda’s premiere of Observing Peace, can be heard on YouTube.

This piece was composed for the 2019 East Asian Music Festival in Hiroshima, Japan. The commission was for music based on “peace” and “a new beginning”. The premiere took place very near ground zero of the atomic bomb blast of 1945. Before composing this music, I first contemplated various types of peace and then incorporated some of them into my observations in this three movement piece.

I – Nature’s Peace
Peace in nature comes as temporarily safe periods of time. In this movement, such peace appears as quiet overlapping chords, but with interruptions by nature’s more aggressive moments. These observations show how precious and fleeting peace can be.

II – The Nature of People
In humans, the natural drive to survive gets confused with desires to conquer and control. Instead of cooperating for survival, people compete for dominance, control, power, riches and prestige. This movement observes people valiantly marching into needless conflict with predictably disastrous results.

III – Toward a New Beginning
Unlike the unpredictable peace of nature, when people let go of aggression and find contentment, peace predictably grows. This movement begins in a quiet meditative way, then gets louder and brighter to symbolize optimism and hope for new peaceful beginnings.

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