The Persistence of Honor (2009)
for chamber orchestra
The Persistence of Honor
The Persistence of Honor was commissioned by the Dutch chamber orchestra, Het Wagenings Orkest ‘Sonante’, as part of their 25th anniversary celebration. It was premiered in November 2009 by that orchestra in the Netherlands, directed by their dedicated and extremely talented conductor, Melvin Margolis.
In the music, you will probably notice a continuous, unrelenting – almost annoying – repetition of a rising pensive refrain. Although this idea repeats “persistently,” it never repeats exactly. Tiny musical changes create a continuous evolution of this refrain, with each statement delivering the same message in a slightly different way.
As a composer, I feel that music exists on a considerably higher level than anything in the real, physical world – especially politics. However, the inspiration (or perhaps catalyst) for my composition was the United States' presidential election in November 2008. In that single day, the country not only profoundly transformed itself from a regime BACK to a democracy, but, the election of the first African American President made perhaps the strongest statement to date in reversing and healing what is perhaps the United States' greatest sin. In an instant, 40,000,000 Americans, for the first time, actually felt like Americans.
This seems to me to be an example of honor rising above amorality. Every day the entire world is reminded of all the ills, created by dishonor, that define our civilization, i.e. wars, crime, maniacal leaders, racism, etc., etc. These ills seem to indicate that the dishonorable, the aggressively brutal and destructive members of our species, are bit-by-bit destroying our civilization’s goodness, decency, integrity and honesty. This might point to a very bleak future for the human race. However, as this Obama fellow gained momentum, was overwhelmingly elected, and then sworn in as the 44th U.S. President, it occurred to me to be a validation of what I suspect: The human species is still evolving, and its future is NOT at all bleak. Just as Darwin’s Natural Selection transforms every species to become “better” in order to enable its continued existence -- so will our species. The proof of this is that, scientifically, we must. Through gentle, continuous Persistence of Honor, dishonor will eventually be eliminated from the world’s society.