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A Sparrow is a Brook is a Glacier

for mixed ensemble

Year:  2022   ·  Duration:  8m
Instrumentation:  soprano saxophone, alto flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, percussion

Year:  2022
Duration:  8m
Instrumentation  soprano saxophone, alto flu...

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Nicholas Denton Protsack: A...

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Based on transcribed calls of Golden-Crowned Sparrows from the Chugach Mountains (Alaska).

When you hike in the Chugach Mountains, relationships between all things—some unfolding over thousands of years—can be readily observed everywhere you look. Nothing is inanimate. Everything seems to have a life and trajectory behind it; the massive glaciers propagate themselves from the ice field high in the peaks above, patiently sprawling across the valley for eons until they each find a spot that suits them. Their meltwater, like a vast circulatory system, feeds many streams and rivers, which in turn nourish the local marshes, fungi, plants, and animals. The mountains constantly make their motion known to you as well; several times a day, the unearthly rumble of distant rockslides punctuate the vast white noise of the wind and rivers. Even the force of gravity seems to have a mystical persona that hangs in the air. Everything is constantly drawn downward from the peaks to the valleys.

The calls of the Golden Crowned Sparrow seem to echo this state of being; though the melodies will vary slightly from place to place, they, too, always descend downward.

When I visited the Chugach Mountains, I spent much of my time transcribing the calls of the Golden Crowned Sparrows. Taking in their melodies, and the landscape around me, I had a bizarre, almost transcendental thought: A mountain must perceive a glacier similarly to the way I, or a sparrow, perceive a brook gurgling by our feet. Perhaps all forms of existence are just different sides of some cosmic coin. Perhaps through music, I can show how a sparrow's call can become a brook, and that brook can become a glacier...

Dedication note

Written for Corvus Ensemble