Vision Quest was written during the summer of 2002 as a work for myself to play. I had not written a double bass work for several years, and I felt compelled to try to add a more serious work to the double bass solo repertoire.
Many of my works are taken from an improvisation to a greater or lesser degree. This work was developed from a keyboard improvisation, however, it bears little resemblance to the original as the transformation has been extensive. The original improvisation served as more of a springboard for the inspiration and the development of the piece.
The term “vision quest” is usually associated with Shamanism, and refers to a period of solitary fasting and chanting in the wilderness in search of a ‘defining” vision. The work, however, is not particularly sectarian or partial to any particular religious tradition. The work is meant to represent an ecstatic religious experience in a more abstract sense. Neither is the music particularly Native American in character, though the ending “vision” section does bare a passing resemblance to the music associated with traditional Peyote ceremonies.
Vision Quest was awarded the David Walter Prize by the International Society of Bassists in their bi-annual composition contest for solo double bass. It was premiered at the 2004 ISB Convention in Kalamazoo, MI, with Michael Cameron double bass, and Dianne Frazier Cross, piano. For these videos, I am playing the double bass and Sherry Lenich is the pianist in a performance at Pinnacle Presbyterian in Scottsdale in April, 2010.
The first movement, Ritual Incantation, portrays the period of singing, prayer, and meditation that begins the ritual.