Water Night is dedicated in deepest friendship to my friend and mentor, Dr. Bruce Mayhall.
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
Hila Plitmann sop., Julian LLoyd Webber vcl.