UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Symphonies of Mother and Child Pon, Nova


Symphonies of Mother and Child is a 40-minute composition written for a chamber orchestra of 15 players: flute (doubling piccolo and alto flute), oboe (doubling English horn), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano (doubling toy glockenspiel), harp, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass. The work is in five movements and responds to the transformative experience of my bond with my child and broader insights it inspired on themes like attachment, interconnection, awareness, time, and transience. Along with the emotional evocations in the music, the work explores these ideas through the use of structural-expressive themes to integrate abstract concepts into musical structure. These include: smallness and simplicity, coherent complexity, special states of awareness, sensitive interactions, time and transience, and expressive trajectories. The piece also contains cyclic materials that recur in multiple movements, including a five-phrase Long theme that leads to movements 1, 3, 4, and 5 being structured into five sections. Movement 1, entrancement, unfolds the mystery of the new life through waking dreams and reflective slumber. In movement 2, following, echoing round songs stratify and shift in a musical metaphor for learning to attune. The third movement, explore and implore, playfully and nostalgically responds to connection and separation as the child grows up and away. Movement 4, listening, meditates on awareness and interconnection between mother, child, and a wilderness of birds and earth. In movement 5, eternity’s sun rise, reflection and exuberant motion forward meet as the past, present, and future come together. The first chapter of this supporting document describes my background and recent composing directions, my transformative mother-child experience, and literature and influences related to the piece. The second chapter overviews the piece including the definition of structural expressive themes, their use in my past works and the current piece, and the overall piece structure and recurring cyclic materials. Chapters 3-7 cover approaches and analyses for movements 1-5 respectively. Chapter 8 contains closing remarks. Chapter 9 contains the musical score for Symphonies of Mother and Child, including a program note. Further details on the music are provided in the Appendices.

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