Awakening was commissioned by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band with support from the audience of the 2020 Dance-Along Nutcracker.
Society has forever oppressed those who do not conform to societal norms and continues to do so today. Because of this, I know many people who have spent much of their lives behaving like someone other than who they truly are, often finding little happiness in their forced actions and habits. Those who continuously feel pressure to suppress their identity can't truly be honest to the world and wither away inside, never meeting their potential. It is a powerful moment when oneีs identity is awakened and they are finally able to express themselves as they truly are, and find their true community. I find the coming-out stories I hear from my friends to be extraordinarily powerful. The joy that they express once they are free to be who they are meant to be is so heartwarming.
To represent this awakening of identity, I use two contrasting musical styles to pit societal oppression against the freedom of expressing one's true identity. The opening of the piece is rigid, squarely rhythmic, stuck in the middle register, and aggressively repetitive to represent a society that is trying to impose its idea of what should be on the protagonist, a solo clarinet. The muted brass and drum set forcefully tear down the clarinet every time it tries to stray from this original impulse.
Eventually, the brass back off and leave the clarinet alone. It begins to explore swung rhythms and freely moves about its whole range. To its surprise, an unmuted horn responds and begins a conversation about this new, jazzy style begins. More and more instruments echo these new melodies, and the music explodes into a joyous big band celebration. Unfortunately, the oppressive brass and drum set return, angrily shouting about conformity. But this interruption is extinguished for good as the big band music returns triumphantly. Finally, our protagonist has one last solo, letting loose and relaxing, finally surrounded by the support that it had been searching for since the beginning.
Duration: ca 9'
- Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons
- 3 Clarinets, 1 Bass Clarinet
- 2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
- 3 Trumpets in Bb, 4 Horns in F, 3 Trombones, 1 Euphonium, 1 Tuba
- Timpani, 4 Percussion