This orchestral piece is youthful, energetic, colorful, and intensely passionate. The piece relentlessly drives forward, dancing with pulsing energy and tutti forces – like a volcanic eruption, colorful and forceful. When it turns reflective, it becomes lovely and atmospheric.
–Mark Greenfest, SoundWordSight
Magayon means “beautiful” in the Bicolano language of the Philippines, and it forms part of the name of Daragang Magayon—literally “beautiful maiden”—the central character in the origin myth of Mount Mayon, an active volcano that overlooks my place of birth, the Philippine province of Albay. According to the myth, Magayon, having previously rejected many powerful suitors from distant villages, was set to marry the chieftain Ulap. But as preparations began for a grand, feastly wedding, the jealous hunter Pagtuga intervened, holding Magayon’s father hostage and setting off a brief but deadly skirmish.
When all of the main characters died—most tragically Magayon herself, who was hit by a stray arrow—the entire village went from celebratory anticipation of the wedding to mourning. The maiden was laid to rest on a grave next to her husband-to-be, which the villagers were alarmed to find rising higher and higher each day, accompanied by earthquakes and muffled rumblings of the earth. At last a crater formed, spewing hot ash and rocks.
My piece is concerned less with depicting the myth in its entirety and more with the emotional journey that the story evokes. I kept in mind Mount Mayon’s near-perfect cone in shaping the piece: its three sections (fast–slow–fast) are of roughly equal length and form an almost symmetrical arc, flowing seamlessly from one to the next. I also place less emphasis on the tragedy of the myth, and more on my own sense of wonder toward the mythology of my home country; hence, the piece, though brutal at times, ultimately comes to a triumphant close. Magayon was completed in New York City in early 2015.
3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players: bass drum, tam-tam, 2 suspended cymbals, China cymbal, chimes, glockenspiel, 3 triangles), strings
28 April 2015, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Juilliard Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky
Juilliard Orchestra Composition Competition, 2015
Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, 2016