The titles of my Octet are taken from the lines of a poem by Wallace Stevens: Sea surface full of clouds. While writing the piece at the American Academy in Berlin on the Wannsee, I told my fellow Fellows that I had a feeling that the piece I was writing had something to do with the color blue, and we started talking poetry. Ellen Levy and Ken Gross, both brilliant literary scholars, sent me running toward the water and the sky in all great directions, yet once I found these words, I kept returning to them. For each movement, I found the title at a different point of completion. Some were completely finished, some in the middle, and some started some musical possibilities for me. As titles go, these are not meant to provide anything that might be taken literally; a vague impression may, in the end, reveal more.
— Sean Shepherd
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.
The four movements are played without pause.