Work: Other Mountain

2′ Excerpt:  Other Mountain

Performed by the La Jolla Symphony. A reading sponsored by Earshot and the Center for Jazz Studies, La Jolla Symphony, San Diego. Conducted by Steven Schick. Other Mountain is inspired from an experience in 2011 near a lake on the other side of Fukushima,Japan, the location of the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster. Soon after the earthquake, my friend invited us to go kayaking on a lake near Fukushima, and when I asked her about potential danger from the close proximity of the broken nuclear plants, she replied, “Don’t worry, it’s past the other mountain.” I had to grapple with whether I should go kayaking with my young son in an area that might be dangerous, but might also be safe. The lake is a combination of natural beauty, but also a contested site of nuclear contamination. An turbulent conflict of utopia/dystopia unfolded in my thoughts.

It is this contradiction of how something appears, as opposed to what it actually is, and this conflict of beauty and risk that I hope to express in this piece, Other Mountain.

The strings begin with carefree and roaming lines, evoking a carefree and roaming energy, representing utopia. The winds ascend with an ominous and creeping line, representing an ensuing dystopia. Brass and percussion introduce a continuing dystopia that will be further developed in the piece. Sections will shift roles of utopia/dystopia, but the optimism of utopia shall ultimately dominate at the end of the piece.

Miya Masaoka 2013, New York City