For Purple Mountains (2017)

The title For Purple Mountains is (at least) a triple entendre: perhaps most obviously, it references the “purple mountain majesties” lyric from Katharine Lee Bates's poem “America the Beautiful.” (In turn, the composition alludes to that song’s melody, written separately by Samuel A. Ward.)

Another meaning behind For Purple Mountains is the landscape that has served as the backdrop for the piece’s premiere in Boulder, Colorado – and, as it turns out, the purple mountain majesties seen by Bates that inspired her to write the text were also in Colorado (Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs).

Finally, the title hints at the “Crossing the Divide” theme of the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival for which the work was written: while the ‘divide’ the festival seeks to bridge is one between performers and audience members, For Purple Mountains was composed with this country’s stark political divide in mind, one that is admittedly much harder to mend. One might think of the precarious common ground as a purple mountain – a mix between blue and red that is easier to see than it is to traverse.

You can listen to Colorado Public Radio's Centennial Sounds podcast featuring this work:

You can also listen to a pre-concert talk about the piece:

Purchase the score and parts here.