Beauty Broken

Premiered at Bath Spa University in England


Program Notes:

I visited the Columbus Museum of Art in the winter of 2014 and met a work that captured my attention.
The piece was titled “Blow Up #1” by Ori Gersht. Gersht used high-speed photography to capture a
moment in time of an arrangement of flowers exploding. In just that one short moment, Gersht captured a
profound truth about this world and the human condition.

At first sight the photo looked amazing. It was beautiful and exciting. Yet when I looked closely, I
realized it was beauty that was broken. The photo was a visual display of the tension that exists between
beauty and violence, or life and death. When I first saw the work, I was attracted to the beauty. Then I
saw the violence and wanted to turn away. However, once I accepted both and was able to hold the
paradox of these two realities, I was able to see the photograph for what it truly was. A sense of hope
emerged as I felt a longing for beauty to be restored.

"Beauty Broken" begins with a chorale in the brass. This chorale leads into a celebratory section that ends
in a state of brokenness. Following this moment of breaking are alternating slow and fast sections that
incorporate what I call the "Broken Theme". This theme is intense at times, while it is somber with a sense
of longing at other moments. The chorale melody also appears at various times throughout the piece,
often in subtle ways. This chorale becomes most apparent at the end as the woodwinds play celebratory
flourishes over the brass chorale. Finally, the broken theme returns for one final statement.

Blog post with extended notes can be found here