UNANSWERED PRAYERS is philosophically inspired by Charles Ives’ “Unanswered Question.” In the case of Ives, he suggests that some questions are best left unanswered. In the case of this piece, I work from the hypothesis that some prayers are best left unanswered as well. Each prayer asks for an extreme, and is therefore more of a choice than a request. Though there are times when we may wish our lives to focus or progress toward a certain extreme, we truly could not even visualize one extreme without its opposite. This makes the prayer less than 100% sincere, which I also tried to depict in the music.
Each prayer is organized around a special technique. The Prayer For Identity is lyrical, Prayer For Harmony uses double stops, Prayer For Simplicity uses harmonics, Prayer For Peace is formed through arpeggiation, and the Prayer For Action is virtuosic. The work ends with an Amen that reflects the opening.
The work was commissioned by John Ebinger, a colleague of mine in the Phoenix Symphony. Besides being a terrific bassist, John is also an excellent woodworker. The idea for this piece developed as a trade for a beautiful wooden bow case that John designed and crafted for me.