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Love Letter from a Sinking Ship

Percussion, piano, string quartet, fixed media
2023

Based on the artwork of Erika Osborne

Program Note

Each movement of Love Letter from a Sinking Ship is based on an oil painting by Colorado artist Erika Osborne, from her series Floaters and Focal Points. The paintings and the music wrestle with the difficult realities of climate change and struggle to see through the despair to find redemption and hope. In Erika’s words:


"Pessimism and hope travel together.

When I am in red rock country, I sit enamored with the beauty in front of me. Then it happens… somewhere in the back of my mind, a newspaper article or Facebook post surfaces that reveals the oil and gas drilling operation being proposed for that very area. The thought taints my experience with the desert view. I can’t see it without it being obscured by politics, ecologic crisis, and cultural complacency. These floaters distract me. They are ever present. They are blinding.


Sick of the floaters, I look for a cure. I make a conscious choice to hear the words, perform the actions and appreciate the beauty that makes me believe (even for just a few seconds) in humanity and in nature’s ability to heal. Focusing-in takes effort and requires discipline. But I do it because I have skin in the game – literally. The sheer will that arises from giving birth has sharpened my focus and challenged my view."


The first painting, “Hope is a Function of Struggle,” shows a logging scene in the western United States, juxtaposed with a botanical-style drawing of a flowering fireweed.


The second and third paintings, “Grief” and “Resilience,” are a diptych. Their titles are based on a Michelle Obama quote: “Grief and resilience live together.” “Grief” was inspired by wildfires raging in Colorado and Wyoming, and “Resilience” depicts the regrowth of a meadow near Erika’s home in Fort Collins after such a fire.


The final painting and movement, “Love Letter from a Sinking Ship,” illustrates the destruction of the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria. A striking sunrise shines through the wreckage.

I. Hope is a Function of Struggle

II. Grief

III. Resilience

IV. Love Letter from a Sinking Ship

Abby Kellems, conductor

Elan Rochelle-Share, percussion 1

Gavin Kitchen, percussion 2

Er-Hsuan Li, piano

Victor Avila Luvsangenden, violin 1

Jordan Grantonic, violin 2

Chloe Ehrmantraut, viola

Peyton Magalhaes, cello

 Jessie Lausé, fixed media

Recorded by Dustin Rumsey

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