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Composed 2020-2021




Duration 13'

Composed for

    Eric Mrugala and Eunjin Lee


    I. Wingspan

    II. Pecking Order

    III. Dialogue

    IV. The Lifting Air

    V. On the Wing

    VI. Seabird


    Dan Moffat, recording engineer

    Recorded at The Record Co., Boston, MA

    Performed by Eric Mrugala (violin) and Eunjin              Lee (piano)

Program Notes


    Seabird is inspired by the graceful and sometimes odd movements of seagulls on the beach of Ocean City, Maryland. Though not ranking on the subjective “creatures of exceptional brilliance” scale, seagulls have one advantage to the rest of the animal kingdom, namely in their understanding of aerodynamics. Whenever a scrap of food appears, perhaps by a generous beachgoer handing out bread (I tried this with orange peels – they didn’t like those, though), the flock will swarm the location in a matter of seconds from all directions. Given that wind is not omnidirectional this feat deserves some recognition. In this the humble seagull serves as an emblem, a symbol of the beach’s effect on us as humans. We seek the beach for rest and relaxation, and for the opportunity the waves and sand present for play. Time often slows on the beach, left to the influence of wind and sea. As a strong evoker of memory, and of place, a dissection of the seagull as a symbol became strong inspiration for music.

    The first five movements are miniatures, focused on a core idea or gesture evoking an element of a seagull on the beach, dissecting his motion and physique. The last movement synthesizes these distinct elements into a cohesive image, evocative of lounging in a beach chair surrounded by wind, salt, sand, and sea. Ideas and motives swirl around throughout, transforming and growing as they wish, moving to new territory with a simple change of the wind. Remember too that this is the beach, so there’s no rush here – the unpredictable whim of the birds, the ethos of rest and good cheer the beach evokes in us, and a strong sense of space, breath, warmth, and calm permeate our environment. Seabird was composed for my friends Eric Mrugala (violin) and Eunjin Lee (piano).

                                                                                                                                                                                                   - August 24 2021

Joseph Foster Harkins


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