Dark Gardens (1999)
I. Night Creatures
II. Skittering Nightmares
III. Frozen Flowers
IV. November Things
V. Cry Carefully
duration ca. 23:30
for 17 Winds
2 oboes, Eb clarinet, 2 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons,
4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones
The emotional world of Dark Gardens has its genesis in a series of extremely difficult personal events, especially my parents' illnesses and my father's eventual death. I remember being wracked with sadness at his impending loss, and yet, while driving in the early morning through the Georgia countryside, when seeing the morning mists rising through the pine forests, I was awakened to their fragile beauty. For his last Christmas, we bought and decorated a tree, but the room was too narrow for both his wheelchair and the tree, so we put the tree outside where we could see it through the plate-glass door. Christmas eve brought a freezing rain, and we woke to find the tree and all the ornaments and lights covered with ice, more glorious than they ever would have been safe inside. Although a pervasive sense of deep sorrow lingers and will never leave, I discovered that the loss of a parent somehow unites us with others in one of the few almost universal experiences. Fragments of half-forgotten dreams still haunt me: night birds, fluttering, panicked...revelations, hopelessness, grief, and despair grow in the dark gardens of the heart, but so too do beauty and wonder.
Dark Gardens was commissioned by Jerome Hoberman, conductor of the Hong Kong Bach Choir, and premiered by the Winds of The Hong Kong Bach Orchestra under his direction on June 22, 1999 at the City Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong. Its unique instrumentation arises from the combined instrumental forces of the other two works on the programme; the Mozart Serenade in Bb and the Bruckner E minor Mass, with Eb and bass clarinet substituting for the two bassett horns of the Mozart.