Syzygy for Orchestra
Robert Morris

Program Notes

Syzygy for Orchestra takes its title from an astronomical term denoting a conjunction of planets or other celestial objects in the sky. The star of Bethlehem was such an event. In this twelve and one half-minute work, a syzygy of three processes takes place; the amassing of larger and larger orchestral forces, the emergence of continually clearer gestural and kinetic shapes, and the mixture of diverse harmonic, rhythmic, and textural materials. The overall form of the work could be compared to a maze since, at the beginning of the piece, the direction of progress is not clear--many paths could be taken--but as the music unfolds, the implications of the opening are finally realized after passing through many passages that offer "partial solutions." In this way, the work, composed in 1966, foreshadows many similar compositional and aesthetic concerns in more recent works: that is, issues of process, eclecticism, the relation of detail to form, and the resolution of the objective/subjective dualism in musical perception and affection.