In 1991, at age 41, I decided to enter graduate school,
fully intending to become a composition teacher. I also felt I
needed something to mend what I perceived as a case of the imaginative
blahs. Though circumstance conspired against my pursuing a
doctorate, I did receive a Masters and I did find new inspiration through
my studies with Chinary Ung.
A WAKE AT NIGHT was the first flowering of this
inspiration. In this work I took a melodic improvisation, stretched
it and used it as a source of compositional material for the entire
work. Important for me at the time was that the sequence of the
improvisation was kept intact. The work which grew from the
improvisation kept its note-to-note intuitive inspiration, while at the
same time generating all of its own accompanying material. This work
became my Masters thesis.
The title refers to many things, but mostly it refers to
the image of a boat slipping through the water at night churning up a
shimmering phosphorescent wake. The improvisation is the boat, and
all the generated "accompanying" material is the shimmering
wake. The derived material often ends up overshadowing the
original. The hybrid process involved in this work inspired my
composition for over a decade, and also reinvigorated my improvisation
leading to success of its own.