As a musician, I've heard many friends and colleagues tell me a similar story of inspiration. It typically goes something like "I had this experience and I immediately thought of this piece of music. I knew that I had to play it." I will admit, I always thought of these stories as little more than an overly romanticized narrative of something that may or may not have happened. Well, I officially had a case of foot-in-mouth disease during the summer of 2017. Enter Black Forest Canyon National Park & Mesa Verde.
During the summer of 2017, while I was living in Denver, I took a trip with my family to southern Colorado. Our first stop was at Black Forest Canyon National Park, a truly remarkable expanse of vast canyons. I was completely awestruck by the expansiveness of what I saw, and Joaquin Turina's Sonata, Op. 61 immediately came to mind. In the first and third movements, I could imagine an eagle soaring through this canyon to the tune of the opening motives of these pieces. Beneath, I could picture a bear rumbling through the bottom of the canyon as the piece's low notes accelerate throughout the first movement.
The next and final stop on our trip was Mesa Verde, a series of Native American cliff dwellings. As a person from the northeastern part of the country, I didn't even know things like this existed! It was unbelievable to see what the Ancestral Puebloans accomplished in terms of buildings, agriculture, and even infrastructure. When you are there standing among the buildings, you are almost forced to imagine what life may have been like for these people. Again, this sonata came to mind. Filled with medium to slow tempo melodies that interject between some of the more aggressive parts, I thought of these as a sort of sing-song that could have been hummed by any one of the Puebloans during their day.
This experience in 2017 was truly inspiring, and the reason that I decided to prepare this sonata for my 2018-19 concert season. To listen to the third movement of this piece, click here.