Europa (2015)

For solo piano
Duration: 17 minutes
Commissioned by pianist Winston Choi with a project grant from New Music USA.

Premiered October 20, 2015
Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University
Winston Choi, piano

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Program note:

Jupiter’s moon Europa is one of the prime candidates for the existence of extraterrestrial water. Thinking of vast oceans in a foreign world, a familiar phenomenon placed in an unimaginably exotic context, I can’t help but wonder how water on Earth might appear to a non-native observer. What to make of its infinite variety, from the near stillness of a pond in a hidden cave to the relentless, impartial violence of a storm; from the (seeming) immutability of a mountain of ice to the wisp of a cloud?

With this piece, my aim is to capture some of the awe of the unfamiliar, using an image that has become almost too familiar in music. I want to explore the myriad ways in which water moves and manifests, and how we in turn respond emotionally to something that simply exists as it is, a product of physics and of its surroundings. This large-scale, virtuoso work of constantly evolving shapes and textures aims to discover the widest possible range of sonority and motion while ultimately attempting to make the piano disappear into the image.

Europa was premiered by pianist Winston Choi in Chicago on October 20, 2015. Its creation was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous.

Live performance (Winston Choi at Indiana University, July 2016):