Instrumentation: Flt 1(+picc)/2, Ob, Clt 1/2/3, Bass Clt, Bsn, ASax 1/2, TSax, BSax || Tpt 1/2/3, Hrn 1/2, Tbn 1/2, Euph, Tba || Timp, Perc 1/2/3/4 (tri,crot(or vib),glock,cr cym,sus cym,chimes,snare,wind chimes,tam-tam,bass)
The monarch butterfly is the most widely known and recognized butterfly in North America. Its complete metamorphosis is a remarkable display of Nature’s creativity. First, the tiny monarch caterpillar (barely visible to the naked eye) hatches from an egg. This caterpillar will shed its skin several times as it continues to eat and grow. When the caterpillar reaches its full growth, it will hang upside down and shed its skin one final time, leaving it encased in a shell called a chrysalis. An extraordinary transformation takes place inside the chrysalis and, at last, a beautiful monarch butterfly emerges.
The first of two sections in Monarch Metamorphosis and Migration aims to sonically illustrate this complete metamorphosis. Musical motives, themes, and instrumentation all grow in complexity until reaching a final transformative stage. Once the monarch butterfly develops and emerges, it majestically spreads and expands its wings… then takes flight!
The second section is dedicated to the annual migration unique to the monarch butterfly. To avoid a cold and deadly winter, the monarchs traverse south and west for up to 2,500 miles. While one generation with a life span of seven months or more will complete this trek, it will take three different generations to make the return trip – each with a life span of fewer than two months. The music calls back on metamorphosis motives, representing the repeated life cycles within the greater migration. A climactic finish paints a picture of millions of monarch butterflies flooding the sky. They are en route to somewhere they have never been, but this destination is where their journey once commenced over a generation ago.
Recording: October 27, 2010, Students of Boston College, David Faleris (conductor)