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Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly

    CHAMBER MUSIC piano trio
    1 violin, 1 cello, 1 piano

    Duration: ca. 13 minutes
    Composed: 1997
    Published by Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag, Leipzig

    Programme Note: Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly was commissioned by the Gryphon Trio and made possible through a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation.  It was written between March and September of 1997 for the Debut Atlantic concert series.

    In addition to the myth of the Phoenix, there are two poetic influences for this piece.  The first is John Keats:

    But when I am consumed in the fire,
    Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

    The second is Robert Graves:

    To bring the dead to life
    Is no great magic.
    Few are wholly dead:
    Blow on a dead man’s embers
    And a live flame will start.

    I’ve always been intrigued by the myth of the Phoenix – a bird that immolates in fire and then rises up again from its own ashes.  It is such a powerful image, and one which is relevant to contemporary life, as we find ourselves balanced somewhat precariously on the brink of disaster.  No matter how devastating any single event might be, you can still recover and begin again:  a do-over.  The success is in the attempt and the belief that it is possible to move forward.

    I structured the piece in 3 movements to cover each phase of the event; fire, bleak devastation, and rebuilding.  The first movement is very fast with quick patterns swirling between the 3 instruments.  It ends very loudly on the lowest note of the piano and goes without break into the second movement.

    The second movement is very austere, open, and soloistic, written without metre.  I wanted to evoke the image of a few embers floating into the still air, glowing briefly then dying.  The third movement is about rebuilding.  The elements of self that survived the devastation, struggle to find one another and emerge from the ashes stronger than before.

    Premiere: First performance by the Gryphon Trio, November 1997, Debut Atlantic concert series

    Recording(s): Recorded by Gryphon Trio, on Analekta.  Allant Trio, on Sony Classical, Trio Alba on Kunstuniversität Graz.

    Score Excerpt [PDF]

    Performed by the Gryphon Trio
    Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly, III

    Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer