All of us have seen stunning photographs of our planet taken from space, but only a few people have actually seen Earth from space with their own eyes. Astronaut Piers Sellers looked at our home planet from the International Space Station and said, “I saw how fragile and infinitely precious our world is.” Using Piers Sellers’ comment as the title and the only text in my new work, which will receive its world premiere in Fort Collins, I composed the piece for solo cello, mezzo-soprano, and sounds of space, Earth, and the human body. The sounds from space provide a strange and unsettling atmosphere around the cello and singer, and the sounds of the human body, including breathing and a beating heart, accentuate the loneliness one must feel in space. Ultimately, it is a piece about hope. I am delighted that the premiere features cellist Sophie Shao and mezzo-soprano Kady Evanyshyn.
Out of the Air was inspired by the poetry of Stanley Kunitz. The movement titles are lines from his beautiful, sensitive, and deeply personal work: It is my heart that’s late; The underlying song; and When I was wild with love. The title of the entire work refers to Kunitz reading a poem he had written 50 years earlier, and focusing on particular “words plucked out of the air” that trigger memories and thoughts for a new poem. The piece is about what it is to look back to one’s youth, to opportunities seized and missed, to the sorrows, joys, and comedy of life on earth. The renowned British cellist Colin Carr joins clarinetist Deborah Marshall and pianist Marija Stroke for the Colorado premiere.