Ancient Places

Score title

Ancient Places


Libby Larsen

More about the composer



Program note

When Paul Vance had the idea to commission a symphonic work to observe the centennial of the Winona Symphony Orchestra and the sesquicentennial of Winona State University, it set me to thinking about time, place, and the significance of longevity. I began reading and thinking specifically about Winona and all the places near it. Searching for something specific and immediate, I read authors who wrote about Winona, believing I would find a cultural consensus formed over the past 200 years. Then, about a year ago, I came upon James Armstrong’s poetry. Through his work I came to slowly understand that place is eternal and is defined variously by humans who pass through, notice, name, and bind their identities to it.

I chose three poetic phrases drawn from Armstrong’s volume, Blue Lash, and created an orchestral suite in three movements: Ancient Places I. The Whirling Surface of Day, II. To Share These Silences, III. Blue in Motion.

What we celebrate with the hearing of Ancient Places is, I hope, a particular strong, peaceful, intelligent, and fruitful identity formed by a consensus of the people who have lived in this eternal place for several centuries. I am honored to be part of Winona’s “song of itself.”