Impressionism. That is the name given to the style of wonderful artists as Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Berthe Morisot and composers as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Erik Satie. Monet’s painting “Impression, Sunrise” would give the name to this movement. Debussy and Ravel hated this term, while Satie preferred
Impressionism. That is the name given to the style of wonderful artists as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Berthe Morisot and composers as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Erik Satie. Monet’s painting “Impression, Sunrise” would give the name to this movement. Debussy and Ravel hated this term, while Satie preferred Dadaism; however, it has been analogous with their music for over a century. These composers have been a major influence in my compositional life. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Deux Arabesques have stuck with me since hearing them. Satie’s Gymnopedie harmonic texture makes me smile every time I hear it. It’s rhythmically not challenging, but yet such an inspiring composition. Around my senior year in college, I went to the University of Michigan University Symphony Orchestra concert of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe Suite 2. This was the first time I heard an orchestra piece by Ravel. I was mesmerized. The trade of the flutes and clarinets in the beginning with the violas and cellos underneath was one of the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard. I immediately went to the classical music store right off campus and bought Pierre Boulez’s recording of
Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” Daphnis et Chloe. Let’s just say I’ve bought it three times since! My best friend Dr. Earl Brooks and I drove from Denver/Aurora to Aspen. This route on I-70 has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the country. The water from the mountains, the mountains, the ski resorts, the trees, the sunrise/sunset, and the landscape were just breathtaking. It stayed this awesome for the entire three hours. I parallel the painting “Impression, Sunrise” with the word “Aurora.” Aurora means “Dawn” which coincidently is also the sunrise. There are some points in Aurora that are unbelievable, although all of what I have seen in Colorado is majestic. Finally, one can’t mention the word “aurora” without mentioning the Aurora Borealis, which is also one of the beautiful natural phenomena in the world. With Aurora, I wanted to write a piece that showed my gratitude to these composers, as if I was a student of theirs and align that with the beauty of Colorado. I had the honor of being commissioned by Weston Sprott, trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera, to write this piece (I am forever grateful to you, good sir). Several years later, I was inspired after talking to my great friend Leo Eguchi to revisit this composition. I knew I could paint a better picture of the story I wanted to tell (no pun intended). I made a cadenza specifically for Leo, embracing great memories of his senior recital. Then I had the inspiration to make a version for Esther Williams on English Horn. Now, I have decided to make versions for a multitude of instruments. As I did my other chamber piece such as Boanerges and The Vivid Dawn, I thoroughly enjoyed revising and recomposing this piece. I believe that Aurora though difficult, will be a rewarding experience for the player.
Musically Yours, Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes