Tapestries for Orchestra
Robert Morris

Program Notes

Tapestries for Orchestra was written in the summer of 1976 for chamber orchestra and is concerned with the various ways in which musical materials and their interactions can produce a diverse but unified world of musical discourse. The orchestra is divided into four spatially separated groups as follows: 1, brass and woodwinds; 2, woodwinds and strings; 3, strings and percussion; and 4, percussion and brass. This format helps reveal the many dramatic or lyric dialogues between and among groups, sections, chamber ensembles, and/or soloists. The music keeps changing its interactive mode, gestural profile, musical materials, formal process, and affective stance very much in the same way an open conversation between a few intimate friends might progress. I think of the form of Tapestries to be essentially cyclic, connoting the visual form of the Tibetan mandala (first brought to the attention of the West by Carl Jung) which is used for meditative purposes. (The mandala usually consists of a square enclosed by a circle inscribed with Buddhist symbols and bodhisattvas.)

Whether the "dialogues" within Tapestries may be considered "inside" or "outside" the mind of the listener is ultimately unimportant. The idea is that "below" the surface gesture, conflict, and sonic uniqueness of the piece there resides an unchanging unity and logic which only takes on significance when illuminated by the surface detail. To consider this underlying unity without embellishment is certainly possible, but its meaning is only made manifest through its realized potential of sounds in time.