Play an excerpt from the middle 2'52" of Going to Vermont, performed by marimbist Marc Wooldridge
Composer: David Heuser Instrumentation: Amplified marimba and computer music (tape) Year Composed: 2003 Duration: 9 minutes, 30 seconds Pages: 17 Cost: Purchase: $20.00
Evan Barr, marimba, Imagine II New Music Fesitval, Memphis, TN (November 2004)
Marc Wooldridge, marimba, various locations (five different performances) including Western Washington University (2004)
When Marc Wooldridge, for whom this work is written, and I discussed what this piece might be like, we quickly found ourselves thinking about natural world (the marimba, after all, is made of wood), and, for me, the place I associate most with being outside, being in nature, is Vermont. My grandparents retired to Vermont, and we visited there so often – it seemed to be the only place we went to for vacation – I grew to know every inch of the seven hour trip from our home in New Jersey, until the journey itself took on a ritualistic nature (especially the part where we left at 4:30 in the morning to beat New York rush hour traffic).
And so the ideas of Vermont and nature began, in my mind, to be associated with ideas of going on a trip, on a vacation, getting away from the everyday and leaving your troubles behind. Although I still go there now, taking my own children, the idea of Vermont also got me caught up in my past, remembering childhood and what an adventure a vacation is to child, and how we as adults become carefree (or try to), and like children, when we go on vacation. Although my thoughts, as you can see, had drifted quite far from the natural world, the piece does include references to nature, particularly through bird song (the hermit thrush, Vermont’s state bird, most notably). The piece, however, is largely about the physical trip I took to Vermont as a child, refracted by the emotional and mental states we, as adults, travel through when we “go away.”
The piece is in three sections. The first is the dark world of worries and of 4:30 in the morning lying in the back of the car listening and watching, pretending to sleep. The second section is the fun part of the trip, when there’s stuff to do, things to look at. However it’s all concrete and billboards with no sign of the natural world. (A connection to my youth: all of the radio audio from this section comes from tapings I did as a kid.) In the last section we’ve finally left the interstate for twisting road that follow the shape of the rivers, with green everywhere, and no sign of the commercial. Open up the windows, we’re almost there.
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