Composed in: 2010
Instrumentation: Violin & Piano
Commissioned by: The Paul A. Carlson, MD, Memorial Fund
for Pacific Serenades
Premiered by: Roger Wilkie, violin
Ayke Agus, piano
Publisher: Pacific Serenades

Program Notes

Batik was written in 2010 at the request of pianist Ayke Agus for her final performance with my ensemble Pacific Serenades, of which she was a member for 20 years. She asked that I write a piece for violin and piano that would reflect her Indonesian roots, and as I wrote, I very much had in mind the playing of my friends Ayke and Roger Wilkie.

Though the piece is not intended in any way to represent or to be a copy of Indonesian music, I did extensively use the pelog and slendro scales—at least, as close as is possible on equal-tempered instruments—that are the basis of the Indonesian music that I heard. But because the timbres of the gamelan instruments and their distinctly non-Western tunings are so integral to the overall sound of that music, I chose to evoke, rather than represent them, through my own admittedly-eclectic Western voice. I imagined the following scenario:

What would it be like for a person from the West to live in Indonesia, an island culture—thus the Waves of the first movement—and come to love its culture, too? But even having become completely at ease in that world, wouldn’t one still yearn for home? Thus, in the second movement, The Homeward Heart, the overtly Indonesian influences gradually disappear from the piece, though they can be heard in subtler forms all the way to the end.