University of Texas Wind Symphony
Cheldon Williams, conductor
April 5, 2019
Purchase Score & Parts
Winner, Wind Bands Association of Singapore Composition Contest 2019
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.