24 Wayfarer Preludes for Solo Piano

a consortium commission

Renowned pianist Kara Huber and award winning composer Dr. Douglas Pew embark on an exciting consortium commission project to create a new and unique set of 24 Preludes for Solo Piano, the Wayfarer Preludes. We invite you to participate as one of 24 consortium members who are coming together to commission this substantial new work (see participation details below). Participants can be pianists who wish to commission a Prelude for their own performance. Participants may also commission a Prelude to honor, or in memory of a friend or loved one.

Wayfarer Preludes is a cycle of 24 musical landscape sketches based on quotes from the late works of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, each carrying a poetic inscription in the manner of Debussy's books of Preludes. The Wayfarer Preludes will be structured following the formal pattern of Frederic Chopin with a Prelude in every major and minor key around the Circle of 5ths. Additionally, like the 24 songs of Franz Schubert's grand song cycle, Winterreise, the Wayfarer Preludes will follow a lonely traveler on his solitary journey. In this case, the journey takes place throughout the varied landscapes of Chile. The Wayfarer journeys from the stark and mysterious desert of the north, through the lush greenery of the vineyards, scaling up the towering Andes mountain range, all the way south to the frozen tip of the continent, finally casting off on his greatest journey to the "stones of the sky" with a final farewell: "earth, I kiss you, and say goodbye" (Neruda).

visual component

In addition to the poetic title from the late works of Neruda, each Prelude will be accompanied by a high quality photo of a particular Chilean landscape. These photos will be available to all participants and may (where possible and desired) be projected in concert in coordination with their specific Prelude. The combination of music, poetry, and visual stimulation will make for a special concert experience for both performer and listener. Listed below are examples of select Prelude movement titles.

  • Oh catederal de azules enterrados (Oh cathedral of catacomed blues)
  • El cielo suculento (The succulent sky)
  • Un rÍo que lloraba al nacer (A river crying to be born)
  • El sol tranquillo, en pálido topacio (Into mellow sunlight, into pale topaz)
  • Nadie baile sino la ola y no suceda nada sino el viento (no one dances but the wave and nothing follows but the sea)
  • Azules aguas de canto inmóvil (Blue waters of steady stone song)
  • El sucesivo viaje de la aurora (The unending passage of dawn)
  • Tierra, te beso, y me despido (Earth, I kiss you, and say goodbye)

composer Douglas Pew

Dr. Douglas Pew was featured in The Pianist's Craft 2: Mastering the Works of Great Composers, article by Scott Holden.

"A third generation of American Neo-Romanticism is well represented by Douglas Pew. Born in 1980, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Poland. Still young, Pew has been garnering attention in the opera world with recent commissions by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post Review). His 2008 Bagatelles [for solo piano] won first place in the 2009 SCI/ASCAP student composition competition. Drawing heavily on hard-swinging jazz rhythms, these virtuoso works drive with energy and propulsion. They are not simply well-crafted improvisations; they integrate sophisticated harmony within the jazz climate. Pew has a particularly strong sense of sonority, and he uses the entire keyboard to great sonorous effect. The Seventh Bagatelle, "Locomotion," swings with unyielding drive, as if it were being played by two of Oscar Peterson's right hands at the same time. The harmony is derived from jazz, but ultimately transcends the style."

"Pew's five-movement, twenty-five minute suite A la Orilla Azul del Silencio was inspired by the final poems of Pablo Neruda. Sensual, other-worldly, and showcasing his rich harmonic pallet, the movements are freely tonal and transcend any sense of measured time. This is gorgeous piano music. "Llueve" is almost hallucinogenic as it slowly undulates around the same C for five minutes, while other lines sensually swim around it. The language is luminous and chromatic, with just enough hints of tonality to help juxtapose the improbable harmonic shifts. Pew has a unique voice that is sure to connect with audiences, saying something fresh, profound, and meaningful."

"Real genius...pure magic!"  — Jessica Vaughan, DC Metro Theater Arts

"More than merely evocative!"  — Anne Midgette, Washington Post

"Doug went to the root of the emotional world of the opera and wrote music that illuminated the characters and situation with a showman's touch and poet's soul. He let it take flight."  — Jake Heggie, composer (Moby Dick)

How to Participate, calendar

We invite you to participate in this exciting project by being one of 24 pianists in our commission consortium. You may also participate as a consortium member to commission a Prelude in honor of a pianist you know or in memory of a departed friend or loved one.  The dedication to the departed will carry the inscription 'in memorium'.

  • Each participant will provide $500 USD towards the project.
  • Each participant will have one of the 24 Preludes dedicated to them in the score.
  • The composition timeline is from September 2016 to May 31, 2017.
  • The World Premiere will take place in the Fall of 2017 by Kara Huber.
  • All participants will have an opportunity to offer suggestions and/or questions about their Preludes before the world premiere.
  • All participants will receive a recording of the World Premiere performance by Kara Huber.
  • If you wish to commission a Prelude on behalf of or in memory of another, please send us a message below with these details.
  • The deadline to enter is May 1, 2016. Contact us below to inform us that you'd like to be involved in the project. Then, please provide the required funds by May 1st by clicking the "Send Commission Payment" button below.
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