for horn and harp

Duration: ca. 6'

Composed for Apple Orange Pair (Emily Boyer, horn and Colleen Potter Thorburn, harp) for the 2017 Connecticut Summerfest


When I received the commission to compose a new work for Apple Orange Pair at the 2017 Connecticut Summerfest, I was overjoyed and excited for the challenges that writing the piece would bring. The biggest obstacle I perceived at the onset of the project was reconciling the sounds and functions of the horn and the harp, which at first seemed very different to me. The challenge of writing for the duo gave me an opportunity to look deep inside myself and to further examine who I am and what I am capable of as a composer, and from this journey, Finding Muse (2017) was born.

The title is a play on words. A “muse” is a source of artistic inspiration, but it is also a reference to the Muses of Greek mythology. The piece begins with an invocation of Calliope, the muse of eloquence and epic poetry, who is symbolized by the lyre. The horn borrows Calliope’s voice, and in its singing, it recalls Achilles’ grief over the death of Patroclus in the epic poem, the Illiad. The piece is also a product of my belief that in addition to its epic and heroic qualities, the horn is the closest instrument to the human voice, and throughout the piece both instruments whisper, mutter, sing, and even shout together.

At its very essence, Finding Muse is a piece of dualities: stark contrasts between heterophonic and homophonic textures, between unison passages and dense chords, between the colors and capabilities of two instruments that, when combined in certain ways, turn out to be much more similar than they initially appear.