I wrote Beijing Harmony as part of Composing China, a project in which I (along with four other composers) was asked to compose a work that reflected upon my first hand impressions of China. I live in a very big city, New York City, and I was certainly dazzled by Beijing, an even bigger city. Every city produces its own set of harmonies. We tend to think of these harmonies as raucous but cities also have meditative spaces. In Beijing, I was enchanted by Echo Wall, a part of the Temple of Heaven in which voices echo from one side of the structure to the other.
Echoes and reverberations play a big role in Beijing Harmony. While writing this piece I thought about the majesty of Beijing’s architecture and how the past reverberates into the future. I envisioned a modern orchestra performing at the Temple of Heaven in the 15th century. Because of the expansive spaces in these ancient structures I imagined that the sound would bounce off the stone floors and buildings creating a fanfare of echoes, an acoustical rebounding and ringing that would slowly grow in zeal and fierceness. Because echoes move in space, the sound of the orchestra is constantly moving in a sonic architecture.
March 17 2013
National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra