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Program Notes

The Journey Album Cover Taylor Irelan

We are thrilled and humbled you have purchased our album, The Journey. 

Below are the program notes from these exceptional composers and artists about their pieces. Enjoy!

The Journey CD Cover (11.4 × 5 in) (1) copy.png

1. Eternal Reflections - Emer Kinsella (she/her)

My inspiration for this piece is the eternal reflections of the isolated individual searching for belonging and acceptance within themselves and from others. From entering different moments of frustration and confusion to calmer spaces of reflection as the journey is ongoing. 

2. Preciado's Fluidity - Camila Fawape (she/her)

‘Preciado’s Fluidity’ is a music piece inspirited in my favourite philosopher Paul Beatriz Preciado. He is well known for his works related to queer theory and gender. 

Paul Beatriz is a trans person, born in Spain but I think it would be more appropriate to call him a world citizen. He travels a lot, he has lived in several places around the globe and he speaks different languages. 

During his transition, he was traveling a lot and the different government authorities didn’t recognise him in the passport’s photo. In his book ‘An Apartment On Uranus’ he claims: ‘I am not a man. I am not a woman. I am not heterosexual. I am not homosexual. I am a dissident of the gender-sex binary system. I am the multiplicity of the cosmos trapped in a binary epistemological and political system,  shouting in front of you’. He talks about there are not two shores, we are all at the crossing.  

I like the way he writes. He thinks outside the box (by box I mean ‘colonial patriarchal epistemology of sexual difference’) and his writing is very provocative that’s why I chose Piazzola’s rhythm. Astor Piazzola is an argentine composer. He is another transgressor as Paul, he changed the way Tango is done using different rhythmic accents and chromaticism. Why use a simple 4/4 when you can subdivide octaves in a different way?  

Another music element I used is ‘transition parts’, so the piece can move in different tonalities (different genders, different countries).  

I believe there are more than two genders, I believe gender is in continuous transformation. Why choose only one gender when we can be many? As Preciado says ‘It doesn’t matter what I am, the most important thing is how I can be free’.

3. The Journey - Taylor Irelan (he/him)

The Journey was inspired by events in my life. The beginning opens with the piano playing ringing church bells to indicate my very religious upbringing. The bells toll back and forth between major and minor, as I struggled between choosing to love and accept myself and being told many horrible things from my very own church about being queer. The melody enters and seems to constantly be searching, never quite settling. The melody is interrupted by an angry and chaotic pounding of the piano, a literal example of days when I was so sad and frustrated with life and being queer in a world that did not accept me, that I would sometimes stop practicing and just bang on the piano with tears in my eyes. The flute wails away in the upper register, trying to make sense and clarity out of the chaos, as flute often served as a safe space and allowed for clarity in my life. The melody emerges once more, only this time the variations grow in persistence and confidence, indicating inner growth and living more unapologetically. The piece ends with the melody played resembling a music box, which I would sometimes fall asleep to, and does not fully end, because my story and growth are not yet over. 

I dedicated this piece to one of my dear flute teachers and mentors, Rhonda Cassano, who was so influential on my growth not only as a musician, but also as a human. The melody was directly inspired by her love of making moving musical lines from even the most simple of melodies. 

4 - 8. Whimsical Suite - Marais Van den Berg (he/him)

I think what scares straight homophobic society the most about the LGBTQ+ community is the ambiguity that is part of our very natures: I am a woman, but don’t want to be with a man. Or, I was born a biological male, but would rather be a woman. Similarly, I am a man, but desire other men. Or, I would rather not be any gender at all.  

This ambiguity is reflected in Whimsical Suite. It clearly shows the ambiguity that is such an integral part of us. Firstly, it is a suite, but does not contain the dances normally associated with a suite. Secondly, and more importantly, the harmonic and rhythmic structure, also show this ambiguity, as the polyrhythms and syncopations testify, while the music often flirts dangerously with polytonality. Even the title says something about us: “whimsical” can have the meaning of “quirky”, “capricious” and “unusual”.  

More specifically, the Prelude reflects the inner turmoil experienced by young LGBTQ+ individuals when they realize that they are “different”. It mirrors the anxiety and confusion experienced by LGBTQ+ teens. The Theme with Variations deals with our stories. Like the variations, we all have a different story to tell, but the essentials of growing up LGBTQ+ are the same. The Aria is a lament for all those youngsters who chose to end their own lives, or were killed and humiliated for being LGBTQ+. The Waltz is written as a chanson, or cabaret, as our lives are so often a reflection of the society that tries to suppress and oppress, while we vehemently comment on and mock this society. The final Tarantella represents the triumphant LGBTQ+ individual whose life, despite society’s censorship, is a dance of joy, when one has faced ones demons, and conquered them. Every part of Whimsical Suite is written in the minor key, highlighting the deep sadness that often pervades our lives:  whether it be for oneself, ones LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers, or a society who is belligerent or, at best, uncaring and indifferent.  

I have endeavored, through this piece, to give a little insight into the lives of the LGBTQ+ community.

9. Violet Ridge - Dominic Valadez - (he/him)

'Violet Ridge' is loosely based around the process behind my and my family's acceptance of my bisexuality. Though not a bad experience by any means, the middle section is meant to reflect the eclectic barrage of questions, and the limited understanding of the bisexual label, hence the livened tempo, flurry of runs, and use of bi-tonality and other ambiguous harmonic movements. The beginning and ending, though similar, are indicative of my own acceptance of my sexuality (thus the solo portion) and being able to let others know as well, which is why it becomes denser in texture, and ends in a rather intimate-sounding space.

10. A reminder if you forget. - Carla Ng (she/they)

In short, this piece is inspired by an (affectionate) rant from my fellow composer friend after she has listened to an early draft of the “A reminder for if you forget”. The original concept for this piece is inspired by a zoom movement piece - “ABOMINATION” that I’ve written for a class. The idea came from how Christianity carries homophobia to the world with colonization, (link is attached in this email). My plan was to ‘transfer’ this concept of “ABOMINATION”, from a movement piece, to a piece for flute and piano. I originally planned on using mixed media, with a mix of field recordings, spoken lines and sound effects. Yet, I scrapped the idea because of a lack of time, and other restraints including copyright issues etc. 

After my friend listened to that draft, she affectionately ranted for half an hour to convince me to use mixed media, rather than writing for ‘pure music’. She knows that I am limiting myself in the box of what I think is ‘pure music’, because I was brought up thinking that ‘pure music’ is the best form of music, how it’s seen to be what ‘professional composers’ should compose. And because of that, I was subconsciously limiting myself to reach my full potential as a composer. With her permission, I recorded the last 10 minutes of her rant, originally for archiving purposes, but ended up being a new inspiration for this piece. 

Queerness is inherently unapologetic, as we are in opposition with a system that denies us by just by existing and being ourselves. As my compositional style resonates with spectacles and 

imaginative ideas, I realized that what I was doing subconsciously, to ‘censor’ my art, is interconnected with how we as queer people are taught to oppress our true self. And that half an hour rant from my friend reminded me of who I am, and why I should be unapologetic for my queerness, as well as my out of the box, explosive compositional style. Her words were so inspiring, I felt a rush of joy and inspiration, which I wanted to in this piece. That’s when I’ve decided to interview my Queer friends on their experience of being inspired and felt queer joy.  

This piece is structured on 2 interviews I did with 4 of my Queer friends studying in Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I want this piece to act as a reminder for queer people around the world, that queer joy exists, and it will be the best thing when you find it. Hence the title, “A reminder for if you forget”. 

11 - 17. Rainbow Sketches - Isaac Montellano (he/him)

Is a seven-movement work which celebrates LGBTQI+ Pride with the seven colors of the rainbow as well as the theorized scientific alignment between sound and light, as documented by Nicolas Melendez and Clint Goss in their “Color of Sound” chart. 

Each colored movement is set in the correlating pitch with inspiration from the emotional personalities of music keys and LGBTQI+ themes as follows: 

I. Ab: RED (With tender strength; Con rojo) Expansive viewpoints of a dark cosmos and existence; eternity. Concludes with a Latin American flair.

II. A: ORANGE (With kind warning) 

Brings feelings of joy, reciprocated love, satisfaction, trust, and spirituality. Octaves and ostinato are prevalent.

III. Bb: YELLOW (With hopeful aspiration) 

Cheerful love, clear conscience, and simplicity. Hopeful aspirations for the future and a better world.

IV. C: GREEN (With gay imagination) 

Innocence, imaginative, and quick-witted. Child-like happiness and creativity with a spiritual feeling.

V. Eb: BLUE (Swing; Blues) 

Devotion, openness, honest communion. Just when one thought one couldn’t boogie-woogie on flute.

VI. E: INDIGO (Love is Love) 

Effeminate, amorous; speaks of the imminent hope of resolving in the pure happiness of C major.

VII. F: VIOLET (With calm transcendence) 

Optimism, calm, and the will to explore. Utilizes an F-A-G theme to rise above with triumph and resilience.

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