Music Well – Dosia McKay, Composer, Painter, Writer

Reflections on Art and Life

Earthrise for Symphony Orchestra

I am alarmed by humanity’s fascination with destruction. We consume hundreds of films and video games devoted to natural disasters and cataclysms. We entertain ourselves with graphic depictions of gore, violence, and human suffering. And, at the center of our psyche, there is much generational trauma passed down to us from our ancestors who lived through war, famine, or pestilence. Is it at all surprising that we see our final collective destiny in an atomic world war and complete annihilation? It is as if we never question it, and in fact, do everything to fulfill this prophecy.

As an artist and a quiet observer of intricate things of beauty found in music, visual arts, and nature, I must object to this madness. The Earth is a frightening and a dangerous place–yes, but it is also life-giving, sustaining, protecting, and in its cyclicality and self-renewal, a soothing and abundant shelter. And while many people revel in hatred and destruction of nature and fellow humans, many more work tirelessly to inspire, restore, defend, build, and to affirm life for our generation and for the future.

Composing a new orchestral piece during a worldwide pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war should have brought out music that was grim and menacing, but instead, I found myself chiseling a sonic space that gradually became more and more hopeful, idealistic, and even triumphant. I kept envisioning Earth that was gathering strength and ultimately rising to overcome the darkness and the evil inflicted on her and her inhabitants. This is my vision for the music and also for our future.


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