Sapphic Meditations was born out of a vortex of several coexisting ideas and inspirations. It began with a desire for a piece built from extrapolated processes and recursions, where a procedure is run repeatedly using the output of an iteration as the input for the next iteration. This allowed for a great quantity of music to be derived from a small amount of initial elements. As similar material was to be repeated throughout these recursive processes, I needed compelling, but very short, bits of text; the fragments of Sappho were a perfect choice for this.
Sappho herself is associated with queer identity and has generally been understood by scholars throughout history as being (at least) bisexual. When this work was being designed, I was looking for a metaphor for gender-transition, and found that the rainbow (aside from being the obvious choice) was an elegant analogy as it is the symbol of diversity-out-of-unity: many colors from a single beam of light. Research into rainbows led to the form of this work, which morphed into a sort of stylized guided meditation using the rainbow orders as canon levels, and helping structure the patterns of ensemble usage throughout.
Finally, the goal of the work crystalized after I read a review of a work I composed in late 2017 that dealt very directly with gun violence in the United States and public reaction to it. The piece was performed on a concert of politic-centered works, and the reviewer commented that each seemed to be simply anger-turned-art, and their performance was to audiences that generally already held the same viewpoints conveyed. Thus the echo-chamber effect created was not “useful,” and these works were just adding to the noise. While I disagree that anger-turned-art is useless in a time of upheaval, I wondered what “useful” art might be like in a culture defined by digital shouting, volume equaling truth, and endless barrages of words & actions against others. I decided that a quiet space carved out to reflect, contemplate, & ponder would be a powerful antidote: what better meditations subjects in these times are unity through diversity, and love for other humans?
Sapphic Meditations combines all these elements into a rich, resonant tapestry that allows for contemplation on the themes from Sappho’s elegant texts - love, nostalgia, loss, and beauty - as well as the themes that are illustrated in the formal and textural constructions: diversity in unity, perspective, and beauty from unexpected places.