I had returned from a trip to Sequoia National Park in July of 2008 and was inspired by the great trees. I knew that these would be the basis for the new work, and in searching for a voice of these great trees I turned to the words of John Muir for inspiration.
Each movement of The Sequoia Trio (oboe, clarinet, bassoon sheet music) takes a quote about Sequoia trees from John Muir’s book The Yosemite and uses it to inspire the music. The opening waving pattern creates the gentle breeze as the growth of the tree starts in the bassoon, moving through the clarinet and is carried all the way to the top of the tree through the oboe. Movement two is sassy and jazzy, describing the kind of resilient attitude that young trees must maintain in order to survive. “The Three Graces” plays on the idea of the three instruments in the ensemble and Muir’s own reference to Greek mythology. Finally in “The Noble Trees” the instruments play a hymn-like tribute to the largest living things on earth. The two “Tree Interludes” represent the individual voice of a tree and its story.
This piece was written during my composer residency with the Vientos Trio during 2008-2009.
I. Sequoiadendron giganteum: The Big Tree
“Southward the giants become more and more irrepressibly jubilant, heaving their massive crowns into the sky from every ridge and slope, waving onward in graceful compliance with the complicated topography of the region.”
Tree Interlude One
Movement II. “A crowd of hopeful young trees and saplings…”
“But here for every old storm-beaten giant there are many in their prime and for each of these a crowd of hopeful young trees and saplings, growing vigorously on moraines, rocky ledges, along water courses and meadows.”
III. The Three Graces
“Groups of two or three (sequoias) are often found standing close together…They are called “loving couples,” “three graces,” etc… By the time they are full-grown their trunks will touch and crowd against each other…”
Tree Interlude Two
Movement IV. The Noble Trees
“…the Big Trees (sequoia gigantean), the king of all the conifers in the world, ‘the noblest of the noble race.’”
– Quotes taken from The Yosemite, 1912
by John Muir
Text is in the public domain.