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Two Orchids

Clarinet and Piano

Score sample

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Two Orchids

In my creative work, I continually return to the concept of “place”: the intangible sense of belonging we feel in a city, a home, a room. Certainly this fascination is born, in part, from my own sensitivity to place and its effect on my emotions and art; but I also find myself drawn to the concept’s universal nature. Regardless of our differences, we all connect emotionally and truly with locations in our lives, with seemingly arbitrary points on a map which provide the setting for moments and feelings we treasure and crave, even (or especially) when we are in far distant places ourselves. Whether we share them with others or with no one, we all have spots where we feel most centered… where we feel most in place.

In 2013, my wife and stepson left our former home of Denver, Colorado to join me on a new adventure in Ann Arbor, and we began the slow process of finding ourselves and our lives anew. One of the first additions to make our new surroundings more colorful was a small orchid. Orchids are my wife’s favorite flower, and she had decorated her Denver apartment with one just like the one we found in Ann Arbor. That single, delicate flower became an anchor: a connection to the beloved place we had left behind. Seeing the orchid reminded me of our place in Denver — not just the beauty of the landscape and the city, but the friends and memories we’d left behind, and the journeys we’d taken in that place. These memories helped our new surroundings to feel more like home, helped to rekindle our sense of belonging where we were. The orchid was a souvenir. It was a story. It was a connection to our place.

Two Orchids is a free exploration of the emotional journey of changing place. Throughout, the core material is refracted and misty, seeking an orientation and direction which changes with each new gesture. Small sonic memories drift in and out of the texture, and flashes of my own musical memories (Bill Evans and Aaron Copland, among others) take over the music and guide the emotional journey. The work is structured around two dramatic, quintuplet-driven sections: the “orchids”. The two sections are similar, melodically and harmonically; the second clearly recalls the first, and although the journey through memories and instabilities has left it changed, the two orchids connect what has passed to what is present, each lending the other more meaning than they could have alone. It is in this connection that the work ultimately finds its own sense of place.

Two Orchids was commissioned by Kellan Toohey.

Score and Clarinet Part: $35

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