Piping The Earth

Judith Shatin

About this work:
The title Piping the Earth derives from the ancient Chinese text Chuang Tzu. The term, in Burton Watson's translation, refers to the many sounds created by the wind as it moves through different spaces. Yet the nature of the air remains the same. My one-movement work analogously flows from a constant harmonic background but the effect as it moves through given sound spaces changes markedly. The title also suggested harmonic pipes or poles, and the piece develops around three such fundamental structures. Piping the Earth is the result of a co-commission from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic. I completed a draft while in residency at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy during the summer of 1990, and am grateful for the delightful residency. The winds and storms that frequently blew over Lake Cuomo were also an inspiration, as was the composition studio, tucked into the side of a hill. Piping the Earth was premiered by The Women’s Philharmonic, JoAnn Falletta conducting. It is included on Piping the Earth, a CD of Shatin's music released on Capstone. It is published by Wendigo Music and distributed by MMB. The premiere of Piping the Earth was greeted with rave reviews. The San Francisco Chronicle said "The evening's high point came midway through the second half, with the premiere of Judith Shatin's exuberant and captivating Piping the Earth. Vividly orchestrated and bursting with imaginative detail, the piece grabs a listener's attention right from the opening moment…the score is exactly proportioned but still left a listener eager for more." The San Francisco Herald said: "The musical firestorm of Piping the Earth, a new one-movement work by Judith Shatin, dazzles with its array of active sound surfaces an shapes." Finally, the Sacramento Bee said: "It hardly prepared one for the musical firestorm of 'Piping the Earth,' a new, one-movement work by Judith Shatin. Apparently conceived as an investigation of the way sound changes in space, the finished work does propose an active and ever-changing soundscape over a constant (if hardly static) harmonic base. It also enthralls. There's no sense of detached solipsistic, intellectual enterprise in this work, which dazzles with its array of active sound surfaces and shapes…The performance was breathtaking.”
Year composed: 1990
Duration: 00:08:48
Ensemble type: Orchestra:Standard Orchestra
Instrumentation notes: Orchestra

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