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Riverwing

for piano

premiered May 12, 1985
Gayle McComb, piano
Scripps College, Claremont, CA

Most of Riverwing was composed at Yaddo, a colony for composers, writers, and visual artists in Saratoga Springs, New York. My studio was a cabin in the woods, where the only sounds that could reach me were the faint bubbling of a brook, probably destined ultimately to be a roaring river, and the chirping of a family of newborn birds, whose eggs had been laid in the eaves above the door, and who were eventually to fly away to live their own lives.

The piece is certainly not intended to be programmatic in any specific sense, but it does begin in the tentative manner of birds and rivers and other living things, and through various transformations, it lives its own life. Neither is the piece intended to be a character sketch, but I did write it for the late pianist Alice Shapiro, and, like brooks and birds, she was on my mind as I wrote it. I like to think that some of her warmth, her glow, her tenderness, and her almost overpowering inner strength is reflected in the music.

score excerpt