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Assurance (2018)

SATB, violin, clarinet

*First-prize winner, 2019 NOTUS Composition Contest

Text by the composer:

Up for air I came,

Asking for water;

Pushed down instead.


I shuddered - 

I pleaded for assurance - 

But you spun away from need.


Your thrashing ocean threw me 

So far from who I’d been

The very sight of sky

Left me treading blind.


How could I remain rooted to shore,

Where even the wind drowned?
The light of burned waves 

No longer cast shadows.


So I turned back.


            August 2018

Composer's note:

I wrote this text after a long period of internal turmoil, in which my mind kept returning to images of water, drowning, and suffocation. All these dark themes, at the risk of sounding incredibly cliché, were at the forefront of my consciousness as I debated myself and life decisions I had made recently. I was getting swallowed up by the pressures of music school, strained relationships, and crippling self-doubt, all of which combined to paralyze my creativity and hope in my potential. Much of the music of Assurance reflects this internal tumult and pain, as much of the harmonic and rhythmic material is rife with nervous, aggressive energy that doesn’t know where to go.


Ultimately, what snapped me out of this dark time wasn’t what I expected: It wasn’t some long period of work and to-do lists and an miraculously infallible nose-to-the-grindstone attitude. It was just a simple thought - a mere acknowledgement of all the storms that had been raging, and then simply turning around so that they were no longer in view. After all the work I had put in to keep my head above water, I found a new peace simply by letting go of what had gotten me thus far.


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