Title: Earth Airs (Symphony No. 2)
Year Completed: 2015
Duration: 32 mins
Instrumentation: Orchestra 2222/4331/timp+1/hp/str+choir(satb)
Credits: Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Mickelthwate, Artistic Director. Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Premiere: January 26, 2016. Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Gary Kulesha, Conductor, and the choir, Horizon, Vic Pankratz, Artistic Director. Centennial Hall, Winnipeg, MB.
Purchase/Rent: Canadian Music Centre
" […] it was Gary Kulesha’s Echoes of Light […] and Derek Charke’s Earth Airs, with its engaging buoyancy, that demonstrated how much wholeness and affirmation there still can be within new classical music. New music can appear stubbornly determined to take the elements of music apart to show the spaces between things. In this concert, Charke in particular was fearlessly putting some of those pieces back together. His emotional symphony (beautifully engaging the human voice, here represented by the feisty and articulate Horizon Choir) managed to reach out, not push away."
– Sue Sorensen, Spectator Tribune, Jan. 28, 2016
Earth Airs is my second symphony, a choral symphony. The text is adapted from the ancient Greek philosopher, Anaximenes of Miletus. Anaximenes was one of several Presocratic philosophers who questioned standard mythological creation theories and opted, instead, for observable explanations to better understand our world. Anaximenes suggests that air is the underlying substance from which everything is created. In his text, Anaximenes muses on the infinite nature of air, on the soul of the world, on the crystalline vault of the heavens, and on the moon being fire. I was intrigued by this notion of an underlying substance of air, and the musical ideas that his text evoked. Earth Airs was written in a spirit of celebration and mindfulness for the fragility of the atmosphere that supports life on earth.
I. The underlying substance is one and infinite
II. The soul of the world floats on a cushion of air
III. In the crystalline vault of heaven
(a cappella) *
IV. The moon is fire
The intention of this work is that all movements can be performed, or selected Individual movements can be performed on their own. * Movement 3 for SATB chorus, a cappella, is now available as a separate work from the Canadian Music Centre. The other movements will also be available individually in the near future.
Text adapted from Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585 – c. 528 BCE) English translations by John Burnet (second edition of Early Greek Philosophy, 1908)
Links: Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
2 Clarinets in Bb
4 Horns in F
3 Trumpets in C
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
1 Percussion *
* Percussion: Marimba, Shaker, Snare Drum, Suspended Cymbal, & Triangle.