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Eric Whitacre

Publisher: Chester Music

Water Night for string orchestra (2003)
Water Night is dedicated in deepest friendship to my friend and mentor, Dr. Bruce Mayhall.
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
String Orchestra
Year Composed
6 Minutes
Programme Note
Eric Whitacre Water Night for string orchestra (2003)
Water Night was just one of those pieces.

In January of 1995 I spent the day with Dr. Bruce Mayhall, and in one amazing four-hour conversation he basically convinced me to stay in school, finish my degree, and continue my life as a professional artist. Heavy stuff. I wanted so much to show my appreciation to him, to write him a piece worthy of his wisdom and understanding. I got home, opened up my book of Octavio Paz poetry, and started reading.

I can’t really describe what happened. The music sounded in the air as I read the poem, as if it were a part of the poetry. I just started taking dictation as fast as I could, and the thing was basically finished in about 45 minutes. I have never experienced anything like it, before or since, and with my limited vocabulary I can only describe it as a pure and perfect and simple gift. It has become one of my most popular pieces, and I’ve heard countless people who sing it or hear it describing the same feeling I had when I wrote it down. I remain eternally grateful for this gift.

The following year, as a student at the Juilliard School, I adapted it for string orchestra, hoping to have it selected in a student composer competition. (It wasn’t chosen.) I tried to take full advantage of the strings, turning the infamous 14-part chord on “if you open your
EYES” into a 25-part chord with lots of double and triple stops. And of course I gave all my favourite alto lines to the violas.

A recording is available on Decca Records 2796323

Violins 1-4 each divisi to 3, Violas 1-2 divide into 3, Cellos., divide into 3, D.B. divide in 2