University of Texas Wind Symphony
Cheldon Williams, conductor
April 5, 2019
Purchase Score & Parts
Mysterious Butterflies was commissioned by the Big 12 Band Directors Association.
Mysterious Butterflies takes its title from Recollections of My Life by Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934), a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who is widely considered the founder of neuroscience. Recalling the joy and exhilaration he felt while discovering brain cells under his microscope, he wrote:
Like the entomologist hunting for brightly colored butterflies, my attention hunted in the flower garden of grey matter for cells of delicate and elegant forms: the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose flapping wings may someday—who knows?—clarify the secret of mental life.
When I first read this text, I immediately knew I wanted to set it for singers, which I did—for small choir with chamber ensemble—in the winter of 2017-18. I also loved the idea of using the same musical material in a purely instrumental piece for band by taking Cajal’s imagery and emotion and translating them into instrumental color and expression. Ultimately, I was deeply inspired by the idea that the human quest for understanding the mysteries of life can—even should—be beautiful and elegant, like a flower garden filled with butterflies.