We know life on earth is in danger, with many species sick and dying from our pollution, and the atmosphere losing its protective qualities. The very breath of the earth, the relationship between carbon dioxide and oxygen, is out of balance. Sometimes it takes a threat of loss for us to realize the blessings we have, and to act to preserve them. Just as when praying for the healing of a loved one we picture the person in perfect health, so in this symphony, I celebrate the earth in her radiant fullness.
The rhythms and shadings of the earth were my inspiration. In summer 2005, cicada calls to mate were exceptionally strong, with 20-30 second waves of overlapping sound energizing Carolina and Georgia nights and into the days. Their energy propels the first movement, Call of the Cicadas. The second movement, Tahuayo River at Night, gently recalls a nighttime canoe ride in the Peruvian rainforest, stars and fireflies sparkling reflections in the dark water. Wings in Flight, the third movement, delights in the playful dance of butterflies at river’s edge, sunlight shimmering on the water’s surface, and flocks of birds soaring above. As the daytime creatures settle down for the night, a transition inspired by a peaceful summer sunset leads without pause to the fourth movement, titles Living, Breathing Earth. Here, a constant pattern of five beats per measure portrays earth’s breath and her majestic rotation, slowly turning in a kaleidoscope of shifting colors, as the sounds of teeming life from earlier movements gradually return.
With gratitude for the miracle of life, and with prayer for the wisdom and will to heal our precious home planet, I dedicate this first symphony to the living, breathing earth and her Creator.
The first movement, Call of the Cicadas is now offered as a standalone work here.
Watch a slideshow profile produced by Ailen LeBlanc for PRI’s Living on Earth, with photos from Meira’s backyard, her trip to the Amazon, and her time at the Hambidge Center in Georgia here.
I am grateful for time spent as a Hambidge Fellow at The Hambidge Center, Rabun Gap, Georgia, fall, 2005, and spring, 2006, where I began and continued this composition. The work was also supported by unrestricted funds from the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Fellowship in Music Composition, 2005-06. It was commissioned by Western Piedmont Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, and Dayton Symphony Orchestra, and premiered by each orchestra in spring, 2007.
Read update from May 21, 2020 re urgent situation in South American Rainforest here.
Winner in 2019 American Prize Orchestra Composition.
American Prize Certificate
American Prize Evaluation
“The Sacred Concert Hall: Orchestra works of Meira Warshauer,” Christina Reitz
“Hearing the Call from Within,” Meira Warshauer
“Auld Acquaintance Brought to Mind,” Jim Fogle
Carson Cooman with Meira Warshauer about “Living, Breathing Earth”
“New work at USC Symphony,” Jeffrey Day
Listen and View the Score