As I contemplated the combination of flute, oboe and piano, the color gold kept coming to mind: bright, intense, luminous. This reminded me of the opening lines to the third verse of Yeats’ poem “Sailing to Byzantium”:
O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
In turn, each of this work’s movements are titled according to the final line of the poem:
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
And finally, the text suggested the very nature of the music: “holy fire,” “set upon a golden bough to sing,” and “perne in a gyre” (which means essentially “whirling in a spiral pattern”). All of these I tried to capture in the piece.