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Elisian fields (2019)

for clarinet and string trio
in one movement

Approx. duration: 6"

commissioned by
Open House New York
and 
Access Contemporary Music

Premiere: June 5, 2019

The TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, NY

by Access Contemporary Music

PROGRAM NOTES

As a life-long New Yorker of A Certain Age and an itinerant architecture lover, the stories of some of the city's by-gone architectural glories has always fascinated me - those storied, mythic places which no longer exist or to which the public has no access. Among these - the old City Hall subway station, Broadway producer David Belasco's infamous apartment at his eponymous theatre - the TWA terminal at Kennedy airport is surely one of the most renowned. Designed by legendary Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, the building was completed to much acclaim a year after his death, but due to the propulsive nature of the evolution of air travel it was considered obsolete shortly after its opening and was soon shuttered. Since when, pictures of the abandoned but gorgeous, soaring, curvilinear space have been the subject of romantic fantasizing amongst generations of New Yorkers and architecture fans.

So it was a special thrill when Access Contemporary Music, a new music advocacy group with ties to architectural projects in both Chicago and New York, approached me in the spring of 2019 to be one of four composers contributing music to celebrate the reopening of this legendary building as the centerpiece for a new hotel.

 

Translating my impressions of the space through my own compositional voice meant projecting the simultaneous exuberance and tranquility the space inspires, the genius with which the space soars in a seamless flow of harmonious angles and effects.

 

This perfect elision in Saarinen’s design kept reminding me of the term Elysian Fields, the final celestial resting place in Greek mythology for great heroes and the virtuous. The jump to Elisian Fields as a title was minor and, considering Saarinen’s celestial achievement, seemed wholly appropriate.