When I started to write Remaking a Forest there were two concepts that seemed to stick in my mind. The first was the idea of “rewilding,” that is, returning habitats to a natural state. The second was the “Ship of Theseus,” an ancient philosophical thought experiment, illustrated by the problem of replacing rotting ship’s planks with new ones: if this process continues, at which point is the ship not the original? So, remaking and reforming and, I suppose, the idea of transformation through a slow process, were the concepts I was thinking about.
Somewhere around halfway through the writing process, the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral de Paris happened. I was struck by this not only because Notre-Dame is a world-famous landmark, but also because it is known as the birthplace of Western polyphony in the 12th century. Fortunately, as we now know, Notre-Dame was not completely destroyed, and can be rebuilt. The interior wooden frame of the roof of Notre-Dame, part of the structure that was indeed destroyed, was commonly known as “le fôret” (the forest). Remaking an already heavily renovated structure to return it to its original state, rewilding a forest built by human hands, feel like fitting metaphors for this piece. Remaking a Forest was commissioned by the Oregon Symphony.
– OB, 2019
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