Casa de los Peregrinos

Performed by The Hutchins Consort

Instrumentation: Hutchins Consort (click here for more information)

Duration: ca. 7 minutes

I. Invocation
II. Pilgrimage
III. Casa de los Peregrinos

Year composed: 2010

Place composed: Costa Mesa, CA

Dedication: Commissioned by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson

Program Notes: This work was commissioned as a “consecration of the house” piece by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, commemorating the completion of their new house, Casa de los Peregrinos, in the Newport Beach, California area.

Each of the three movements is based on the musical spelling of a word or phrase. The opening movement, “Invocation,” is based on the word “pilgrim,” and serves as a sort of prayer or meditation before beginning the metaphorical and musical journey of the piece. The second movement, “Pilgrimage,” is based on the words “Saint James,” as the Ahmansons’ concept of what their house is “about” is linked with the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage. Each of the instruments plays through this theme, but all start at different points and progress through the theme at different rates, as if they are individuals taking the same pilgrimage, but starting from different points and moving at different paces. And the final movement, “Casa de los Peregrinos,” is based on the musical spelling of the address of the house. The destination of the pilgrimage, paradoxically, becomes itself a house for pilgrims on the greater journey through this life, for which all pilgrimages are ultimately metaphors. The treble violin soars above the swelling chords of the other instruments, reminiscent of a seagull flying over the ocean waves of the beach that the house overlooks. The theme from the second movement is heard again, and at the end of the piece the first “pilgrim” theme returns, creating an arch-like form; it begins as an echo, builds into dissonant excitement and finally resolves to a major chord, foreshadowing the triumphant end to the ultimate pilgrimage. And in a final moment of symbolism, the first note of the piece becomes the major third of the final chord, suggesting that the end is in view even at the beginning of the journey—whether we can see it or not.

“This world is but a thoroughfare of woe,
And we are pilgrims passing to and fro.”
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales