The Imagined Forest (2021) for orchestra is a fantastical journey through a space that appears to be a familiar impression of nature, but simultaneously somewhere entirely unknown. The forest, a place rooted in fairy tales, fantasy and folklore, often represents areas of refuge, danger, transformation, and adventure. Recognising the forest as an ethereal and intangible entity, the piece seeks to momentarily transport the listener somewhere intimate and yet, surreal.
The piece is inspired by the work of Clare Celeste Börsch, a Berlin-based artist who uses collage techniques to build imagined worlds filled with foliage and fauna. Bringing together thousands of delicate hand cut paper images, she creates intricate and immersive spaces to transform ordinary rooms into magicalforests. The Imagined Forest travels through the musical space by interweaving atmospheric textures and fragmentary melodic lines as a collage of fleeting images, just like the artwork upon which it is inspired. The music follows a voyage through the forest with moments of florid energy marked by tumbling, intervallic passages enacting the liveliness of nature itself, contrasted with large interludes of static stillness embodying expansive clearings. The central musical theme wanders through the piece towards enclosed glades where it pauses, as if it is interspersed with shimmering light from the canopies above and the dreamlike dances from the elements of nature; the orchestra glistens with sparkly interjections. Both music and art are fascinating in that countless people can all be experiencing the same work at once and yet, through the lens of their own influence, encounter a completely different artwork. This piece is therefore not a prescriptive experience but is instead a fictional journey; whether it is blooming with flora, captivated by colour, or an airy garden darkened by storm, it is the forest of your own imagination.
© Grace-Evangeline Mason, 2021