Mighty Triborough (2013)
Chamber Orchestra (188.8.131.52/1.1.1./timp./1perc./pno./hrp./strings)
Commissioned by The New Juilliard Ensemble
“It has long been a cherished ambition of mine to weave together the loose strands and frayed edges of New York’s metropolitan arterial tapestry”
– Robert Moses
Pieces of music have been written about the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge… if there’s a musical work about Triborough, I haven’t heard of it. But Triborough is my favorite of New York City’s great bridges. Not one bridge, but three giant bridges in one, Triborough is one of those great human accomplishments that raised architecture to the level of sculpture. Since I was a little boy, I’ve found its art deco detailing unbelievably beautiful and the story of its construction inspiring.
At the opening of my piece, you can hear the kinetic energy of Triborough: the excitement and nervous energy of the forbidding task of putting together 13,500 feet of elevated viaduct and 14 miles of roadway in the middle of the Great Depression. Reopening cement factories from Maine to Mississippi, the work of men and women in 132 different cities across 20 states went into the construction of the Triborough Bridge. Underlying it all is the furious rush of water: the audacious drive of human beings to “repair” what nature has done.
The energy gives way to an austere chorale in which Robert Moses appears as master builder looking at New York City from the sky view of a great planner and seeing the incredible fact that the streets of three great boroughs, Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens seem to be rushing together and all of a sudden, at the point where they seem to meet, they’re held apart by these narrow bands of water in the middle of which is Randall’s Island! The chorale has a spacious, lofty feel to it: the glaciers that had rumbled down from Hudson Bay eons ago had torn Long Island loose from the mainland United States; Robert Moses stitched it back together again with the Triborough Bridge. And since Long Island contains Brooklyn as well as Queens, Triborough was finally uniting an entire city.
New York City is full of monuments that defy depression and this bridge is one of city’s finest achievements. More than just architectural splendor and a monument to the best of public works, it speaks to the human capacity to rise above our circumstances and to do great things in the most difficult times. My little ode may be the first musical tribute to this bridge but I can’t think of a structure more magically musical than mighty Triborough.
– Mohammed Fairouz (2013)