The Mediterranean looms large in my family history and genealogy. Learning the mythology of Greece and Turkey as a child through books and bedtime stories, I came to associate this body of water with mystery, no small amount of adventure and, despite my strong physical and psychological attachment to the North, a distant, muted sense of ultimate home. As I draw primarily on landscape for creative impetus, during a trip to the region in 2007, I expected to find in the lands of my ancestors a potent new source of ideas.
Although the vistas were arresting and beautiful, they did not resonate in me on a deep level. What I – a northerner by more than birth and temperament, it would seem – was allowed to carry away from that trip were merely fond recollections of a foreign place, profoundly “other” from my experience: the iconic, archetypal “Mother Sea” and its numberless shades of blue, the quality of the sunlight, the smell of flowers and herbs in the air. These are the impressions informing The wine-dark sea, a dreamlike postcard written after the fact, through a haze of memory.
This final version of The wine-dark sea, for guitar ensemble, was made for one of the original commissioners of the piece, Rody van Gemert, and the guitar class of the Avonia Music Institute in Espoo, Finland.