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I Am a Garden Adorned

for baritone, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and electronics
(2023)

  • Duration 17'
  • Instrumentation baritone, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and electronics
  • Publisher Boosey & Hawkes (Hendon Music)
  • World Premiere 2/24/2024
    The Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM
    loadbang
Buy Score

Program Notes

I Am a Garden Adorned was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, Library of Congress for Loadbang. When I started writing the text for the piece, I thought back to the writing I had seen on the walls of the Alhambra -the so-called “Palace of the Moorish Kings”- in Granada, Spain. The Alhambra is an extraordinary place, the construction of the main buildings was so fine, that even today, many hundreds of years after it was built, the corners of the towers remain as sharp as they must have been when they were built.Of course, this is to say nothing of the artistry of the details that adorn so many rooms of the palace. One other important feature of the palace, is the beautiful gardens “El Generalife”. In thinking about this place, I recalled the vital contribution the Islamic world made to the world’s knowledge of astronomy (not to mention mathematics and other subjects) as well as the fact that, before the Reconquista, this was a place where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in relative peace and furthered the advancement of human knowledge together. It was these thoughts that were in my mind when I wrote the text. The walls of the “Sala de Dos Hermanas” (“Hall of the Two Sisters”) are decorated with a poem by Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393). This poem starts with the line “I am a garden graced with beauty." I adapted this line and some of the rest of this poem as a starting point for my text, imagining an eternal garden that bears witness to the ebb and flow of seasons and, in a longer time-frame, celestial movements.

Ultimately, both in music and text, the piece is about layers of meaning. Taking an inscription in Arabic, going through Spanish, then into English and then making a modern, abstract text for me served as a metaphor for the piece. Recordings, which for me are an audio analogue for this concept of ideas getting passed down through the echoes of history, translated and re-contextualized, play a central part of the piece.

— Oscar Bettison

Reproduction Rights:
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.

 
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