Three Sky Interludes from Amelia


Three Sky Interludes from Amelia


for orchestra (2011)

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  • Premiere: 26, 28 April 2012 / Benaroya Concert Hall, Seattle, WA / Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Gerard Schwarz
  • Instrumentation: 2(I,II=pic).2(II=CA).2(I=E-flat; II=bass)
  • "Commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Gerard Schwarz Music Director"
  • Duration: 18.5'
  • All orders are digital downloads. To order paper scores visit our distributor partner, Theodore Front. 
  1. Sortie
  2. Why Fliers Fly
  3. Taking Wing

Program note

Amelia is a story about coming to terms with one's past in order to be fully alive. It is also about how the past is always with us -- everything we've done, everyone we've loved, every dream we've dreamed.

The Seattle Opera commissioned and premiered the opera, which concerned a first time mother-to-be, whose psyche had been scarred by the loss of her pilot-father in Vietnam, compelled to break free from anxiety to embrace healing and renewal for the sake of her husband and child. The tale unfolded over a 30-year period beginning in 1966. The opera interwove one woman's emotional journey, the American experience in Vietnam, and elements of the Daedalus and Icarus myth to explore man's fascination with flight and the dilemmas that arise when vehicles of flight are used for exploration, adventure, and war.

Sortie recounts one American naval aviator's emotional journey as he first receives his orders, then climbs into the cockpit of his plane, takes to the air, flies his mission, and returns to his carrier. The three part musical form consists of a brutal fugue during takeoff followed by the flight itself, underpinned with a manic "S-O-S" Morse Code rhythm. Mission accomplished, the music turns pensive and jittery as the pilot flies home.

Why Fliers Fly divides neatly into two parts. Both are meditations on loss. During the first half, the pilot reclines in his bunk, recalling the lullaby that he sings his six-year-old daughter. The harp signals a modulation when he falls asleep. He dreams about flying.

Taking Wing tracks two simultaneous activities: one, the pilot's plane taking off, and the other, the mother laboring to give birth to her daughter. At the critical moment, the baby crowns and the aircraft lifts into the air. There is at that moment a sudden shift to E major, the key of heaven and grace: the baby is lifted up, the plane levels off above the clouds. For a moment, everything is weightless, and there is peace. The movement ends with mother and newborn watching the sun rise, while, a lifetime away, the pilot flies into the sunset.

Gerard Schwarz and Daron Hagen rehearsing  Amelia.

Gerard Schwarz and Daron Hagen rehearsing Amelia.

Movement One: Sortie

Movement Two: Why Fliers Fly

Movement Three: Taking Wing