Baltic Crossings

alto sax and piano

duration: 3′ 45″

“Baltic Crossings” was commissioned by Timothy McAllister for Project Encore Vol. 2, with Timothy McAllister, saxophone and Liz Ames, piano.

Program Notes:

In the Estonian National Epic, “Kalevipoeg,” the titular hero (the brave if sometimes hot-headed and foolhardy son of Kalev) swims 50 miles across the stormy Baltic Sea to Finland in pursuit of the Finnish Wind Wizard who has kidnapped his mother, Linda. During World War II in German-occupied Estonia, my granduncle Ilmar rowed a small boat across the same choppy seas to escape conscription into the Nazi army, joining instead a regiment of Estonian volunteers called the Finnish Boys who fought to protect Finland from the invading Red Army. In 1993 I travelled with my mother to her newly independent homeland, free after 50 years of Soviet occupation. We took a small plane from Helsinki to Tallinn, flying across the same gulf waters, which looked serene and calm from a distance, hiding vast powers and layers of history under the sheen of a blue-grey surface. It feels strange that this sea, always the same, always changing, has taken part in so many stories. But this music is about the water more than history or legend: it is inspired by wind and waves, storms brewing in the distance, and light breaking and scattering off the surface of the sea. Hopefully in the music there is also a sense that home is not too far away.