Haunted Topography is a meditation on a story told to me by Moe Armstrong in the summer of 2011. Moe is the founder of the veteran rehabilitation program Vet2Vet. It was in this capacity that he met a woman whose son had been killed in Vietnam. Even decades after the loss, this mother could not even begin to move past the pain. In speaking with Moe, it came out that, though she had asked, no one had ever shown her a map of where it had happened. She felt that she needed to know this—to see the place where her son had been killed—before her healing process could begin. Moe showed her, and it helped her to begin to heal.
It is a simple story, of course, but it says a lot about the nature of grief, of mortality and of the peculiarities of each individual’s needs while engaging with the healing process.
Originally commissioned by Alarm Will Sound, the sinfonietta version of haunted topography received its world premiere on October 21, 2011 at Roulette as part of the 2011 SONiC Festival. The orchestral version of the work was commissioned by Christopher James Lees, who premiered the work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on October 18, 2013.
—David T. Little
August 23, 2013