“It’s not at all obvious what music and science have to say to one another--science is about data and music is not,” said Stucky, who the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra named their Composer of the Year in 2011. “I discovered the meeting point between music and science--let’s call it ‘poetry.’”
“Music makes space to respond emotionally to things we don’t have adequate language to talk about, like our fears about the planet or ourselves,” said Stucky.
It took Stucky five months to write “Silent Spring.” Most of that time was spent finding the music in Carson’s writing, he says. Instead of focusing on the technical aspects, Stucky drew inspiration from Carson’s lyrical writing style--specifically, four of her titles: The Sea Around Us, Silent Spring, “River of Death” and “The Lost Wood.” (The first two are titles of her books; the latter two titles are chapters within Silent Spring.)
The final piece is 17 minutes long, and is structured into four parts named for those titles. It played for the first time last February in Pittsburgh, the city in which Carson grew up. This October and November, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plans to perform “Silent Spring” in seven cities across Europe.
“The piece is not science and not propaganda either,” said Stucky. “I don’t mean to send a listener away with a message about toxic chemicals and ecology. I mean to give listeners the feeling that they can have strong views about life, and that’s what ‘Silent Spring’ is about.”