About the Score
A 20 minute work for large chamber ensemble. World premiere by Exit 128.
From the program notes:
From Bertrand Russell’s 1930 The Conquest of Happiness , an early “selfhelp”
book full of advice for the ordinary person, I chose particular unhappiness and happiness models that seemed to lend themselves well to musical realization.My work’s title—"To Fill the Hour"—is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1844 essay Experience . He discusses
life’s frustrations and what Joel Porte calls "existential nausea" ( The Problem of Emerson , 1972). One frustration might arise from the conflict between desire for permanence and need for change. Another is the unattainability of reality: we are nature’s fools; we fumble; we can’t quite get it right; we cannot see directly because our lenses are distorted. Emerson’s remedial approach, in line with Bertrand Russell’s thinking, posits that "intellectual tasting of life will not supersede muscular activity." He declares that
“life is not intellectual or critical, but sturdy. Its chief good is for well-mixed
people who can enjoy what they find, without question. Nature hates peeping, and other mothers speak her very sense when they say, ‘Children, eat your victuals, and say no more of it.’ To fill the hour, that is happiness; to fill the hour, and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”
Author John Lysacker notes that Emerson is here asking us "to focus on the present, to keep to a midworld
between bloodless abstraction and false concreteness" ( Emerson and SelfCulture,
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