Written for Kurt Masur's farewell concert with the New York Philharmonic, Hemispheres tells the stories of creation from three very diverse cultures: The western (I. Genesis), American Indian (2. Earth Canto), and Hindu (3. Rajas). Experience first-hand Joseph Turrin's talents for making a wind ensemble sound like a full symphony orchestra.
When Kurt Masur commissioned me to compose a work for his farewell concert with the New York Philharmonic he requested that it be exclusively for winds. Composing a piece for one half of the orchestra became the inspiration for the title Hemispheres (defined as one of two half spheres formed by a plane through the sphere's center). Hemispheres would become the metaphor for a piece written in three movements, with the middle movement, like an equator dividing the larger halves.
While composing, I began to explore the concept of the hemisphere and how individual parts come together forming a larger, more perfect whole. The idea of a sphere, a circle, the earth, evolution, the cycle, the journey, and returning to the origin seem to take hold. I thought of how every culture has beliefs about creation and that somehow they are all based on a similar idea - that of returning to the origin, the full circle. Through my research on this subject I became most interested in three particular stories of creation all from very diverse cultures: The western (I. Genesis), American Indian (2. Earth Canto), and Hindu (3. Rajas). These stories became the motivation for Hemispheres in that music itself also takes on a cyclical form with reoccurring themes throughout and short motifs that develop into larger groups.
Much of the music was complete by the time the horrific events of September 11, 2001 had occurred. Although there was more composing to be done, these events had a profound effect not only on me, but consequently, on the music as well. I began to look at the piece from a completely different perspective. As I continued writing, I decided to expand previous sections, cut, refine, and add new material until the work took on a new shape - something larger and more potent. What had started out as three culturally diverse stories coming together into one larger unison had now become an homage to life, earth, creation and the divine forces that drive the sphere of existence. In the shadow of September 11, 2001, I realized that I had written a memorial piece. Not as a melancholy elegy, as one might expect, but a work that is driving, forceful, exuberant, and a celebration of life itself.
- Joseph Turrin
Grade Level: 6
Number of Players: Standard
Listen to Recordings
2 Bb Clarinets
5 Horns in F
4 Bb Trumpets
Piano & Celesta
Percussion 1 (snare drum, wind chimes, bell tree)
Percussion 2 (suspended cymbal, crash cymbals, bells)
Percussion 3 (bass drum, vibraphone, suspended cymbal, woodblock, xylophone, temple blocks, brake drum)
Percussion 4 (xylophone, bells, tom-toms, gong, temple blocks, bass drum, suspended cymbal)