Three City Blocks was composed among the palm trees and cypresses of the Italian Riviera in the fall of 1991. Why then was the composer pursued by these images of urban America? Was it premonition, apprehension, admonition, or a simple acknowledgment that the rural myth he had embraced has been swallowed whole by the city?
Each Block starts bravely and buoyantly only to end somewhere else. Is the end of the first one sinister, or does it bring liberating Dyonysian impulses? Does the second dissolve into darkness or healing rain? Is the Amen that ends the finale rage or hope? I don't know the answers to these any more after the composing than during the composing. The piece is not a political or journalistic statement. It is a sensor and reflector. It senses and reflects many things both beautiful and non-beautiful and seeks to locate them on the map.
The piece was jointly commissioned by the wind ensembles of the New England Conservatory, the University of Cincinnati, Florida State University, the U.S. Air Force, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California.