Through the Golden Gate (2009) by Lori Dobbins
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, and piano
Earplay commission

It was a great pleasure to compose a piece for Earplay's 25th anniversary season. Over the past 25 years, Earplay has established itself as one of San Francisco's premiere new music ensembles and is renowned throughout the country. I have had the opportunity to work with Earplay several times and jumped at the chance to continue our collaborations.

On the occasion of Earplay's 25th anniversary season, it seemed appropriate to write a piece about the beautiful city of San Francisco. Having grown up primarily in the Bay Area and having lived here for more than thirty years, I left my heart in San Francisco and miss it a great deal — the cool, enveloping fog, the dramatic coastline, seagulls riding the wind as it whips up waves in the bay, the constantly changing view of the Golden Gate Bridge as the fog blows over and through the towers and suspension cables — this sight always inspires me! So even though I do not believe music can literally represent a place the way a painting or photograph can, this piece is a musical imagining of day moving into night in the vicinity of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The piece is primarily concerned with color and harmony, though melodic passages also occur, particularly in the flute, which employs a number of extended techniques. The ensemble is often used to create a kaleidoscope, with colors and patterns constantly changing and moving in and out of focus. The overall form is directional — from the use of sound for its own sake with the clusters, glissandi, harmonics, pizzicato, etc., to the prominent flute melody and later contrapuntal flute and clarinet melodies, to the use of the entire ensemble creating rich harmonies and colors over a wide register, and finally to the coda, which reflects material used earlier in the piece as a reminiscence.

I realize that without this description, the listener would most likely imagine something other than what I sought to portray. However, I believe the dramatic arc of the piece can be perceived as a progression from early morning to late at night, with the light of glittering stars dancing on the waves.

.Many thanks to the wonderful musicians of Earplay for premiering this piece!

— L. D.    

[from program for March 22, 2010 concert]