Sea Changes

Gerald Levinson

Rental
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Sea Changes was written in 1990-91 in response to a commission from a consortium comprising the Indianapolis Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Aspen Music Festival, underwritten by the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Commissioning Program. The principle ideas were sketched during many days spent on high bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Torrey Pines State Reserve in Del Mar, California, and are imbued, at least in my mind, with the character of the sea in its various aspects and of the meeting of the sea and the land.

At the core of the work is a play of absolute, unmediated contrasts. On one hand are spacious images of changing light and texture of the sea. At the beginning, for instance, a delicate string melody is heard over a shimmering percussion background, and the whole work is permeated by the rarefied light of widely spaced major triads.

In stark opposition are evocations of the rugged, fantastically sculpted cliffs which plunge into the sea at Torrey Pines. Fierce pedal tones in the trombones, majestic melodies in the low brass and winds (harmonically ?colored? by reedy winds), and high, metallic wind and percussion chords suggest the harsh grandeur of the landscape.

However, Sea Changes is not intended to be heard as program music; the thoughts and images described here are simply those surrounding the genesis of the musical ideas, which may or may not evoke similar associations for each listener. The ideas are worked into an overall design according to purely musical (non-descriptive) criteria. The various musics are often abruptly juxtaposed or superimposed together, but despite the contrasts they are often transformations of one another. The contours of the opening string melody, for example, are those of the angular low brass line, and of the mercurial, disjunct passage for unison strings and winds as well. Moreover, the ideas generally share qualities of timelessness, immensity, even monumentality, since prolonged contemplation of the sea can encourage us to cultivate a sense of inward stillness, an awareness of the larger rhythms of the natural world, and a sense of awe.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by a consortium comprising the Indianapolis Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Aspen Music Festival, underwritten by the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Commissioning Program
Composition Date 1990-1991
Duration 00:24:00
Orchestration 3 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; 4Perc. Hp. Pno. Str.
Premiere January 1992. Indianapolis Symphony, conducted by Alfred Savia.