Beyond All Walking is dedicated to my Grandmother, Jean-Adelaide How, who passed away in 1995. While I was working on the piece, I rediscovered a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that had a profound connection to the creation of this orchestral piece. The title of the piece, Beyond All Walking, was derived from the end of the poem:
"She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way:
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly."
It was quite fascinating to me that although I had already composed the end of the piece, I felt such a powerful connection between the end of this poem and the feeling that I had tried to convey with the ending chorale. The soul is a powerful thing and its natural inclination is to want to fly up towards the heavens. I tried to create a feeling of flight at the end of this piece, as if throughout the piece, one has been longing for some sort of release, and once arrived at, one can feel the power of flight.
I believe that there are many ways that one can fly without leaving the ground. To me, the gift of music is the most powerful of those ways. Neither the intellect nor intuition can be rejected for truly honest and powerful music. Music which accomplishes this balance reflects nature and the human spirit in a most profound way. Through this piece I humbly attempted to reach this balance. I tried to create a work that would employ a language which successfully lies between the strongholds of atonal and tonal sounds. I often found myself struggling with the inclination to treat the two languages as if they were opposing forces, rather than two things that could exist together. Whether I achieved a harmony between the two or not, both literally and figuratively, can be left to the listener to decide. Out of a cluster from the strings emerges a tonal chorale which gives the feeling of flight. However like death, like life, like faith, no matter how strong, there is always a moment of uncertainty and questioning. The piece ends with solo flute which against the tonal chorale is that hanging question, the uncertainty of life itself.