For the last Besas Memorial Concert of the season, pianist Eric Kamen and flutists Ona Jonaityte and Ashley Addington will be performing pieces from a wide variety of composers – including Eric Kamen! In addition to being a performing pianist and instructor at Indian Hill Music School, Eric is an accomplished composer. His piece, “The Peace of Wild Things,” will make its debut at the concert. We sat down with Eric to learn about his inspiration.
At the outset, Ona and Ashley built the program around pieces they thought would be contrasting in style, period and technique, flavor and expression reflecting their personal tastes and experience. When Ona initially proposed the concert to me, I offered to compose a new piece for two flutes and piano instrumentation especially for this event.
For my piece, I had set out initially to write music that reflected my feelings for and about special places and landscapes that I’ve known or imagined in my life. The music was not meant to reflect a literal impression of places but more my own personal connection emotionally to these special landscapes. As the project progressed, with most of the score sketched but not yet coalesced into a whole, I serendipitously came across a poem by naturalist and poet Wendall Berry. I actually heard him read the poem during a Bill Moyer’s interview and broadcast on PBS.
I was so moved and stirred by his reading and the content of the poem, I realized at that moment that my music and his poem were of the same spirit. So I decided in that moment to title my piece, “The Peace of Wild Things” after the title of his poem. His words expressed for me what my piece was going for in musical expression. In the spirit of Franz Liszt, who through his own travels was inspired to compose music to “portray his strong sensations and most lively impressions,” I set out to express through music my own deep emotional connection and feeling for the phenomena of nature.
Here is the text of the poem:
The Peace of Wild Things
BY WENDELL BERRY
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Hear the debut of “The Peace of Wild Things” by Eric Kamen on Sunday, May 4 at 3:00pm, in Blackman Hall at Indian Hill Music School.