John D. Gottsch
Ocklawaha, by Composer-in Residence John D. Gottsch, has its world premiere during Masterworks II from January 24-28, 2023.
John D. Gottsch was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and shortly afterwards his family moved to Florida. He spent his youth in the lake country of Florida swimming with alligators and always looking down in woods and swamps to avoid rattlesnakes and water moccasins. He traveled many of the rivers of the state which would begin in the back country and eventually empty into the Gulf or the Atlantic. These explorations of Florida gave him an enduring love for the beauty and wild life of the state.
Mr. Gottsch now splits his time between Baltimore and Key West. He has been a lifelong composer and a number of his compositions reflect his deep appreciation of the outdoors. His piano suite, Homosassa was premiered in Palm Beach (2020). His piano quintet, Maryland Hunt, was premiered at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C (2018) and has been performed in Philadelphia, Vienna, Rotterdam, and Baltimore.
His orchestral symphonic poem, Sunset, was conceived while at Mallory Square in Key West as a large crowd enjoyed the setting sun. The moment seemed to call for a musical fanfare. However as the score was sketched, the fragile nature of the island and its vulnerability to the perils of climate change became abundantly clear.
The structure of Sunset consists of 7 connected movements as the score attempts to bring to musical life some of the past and future of Key West. The 1st movement represents the birth of the island, “From Ocean’s depth.” The 2nd movement is a fanfare to “An Island Is Born.” This is followed by “Life Is Teeming,” with the 4th movement celebrating the ubiquitous birds of the island, “With Soaring Magnificent Frigates Vigilant.” The frigates are in fact on guard for an approaching hurricane, movement 5, “For the Impending Tempest.” This section represents the fury of a hurricane and was actually conceived and written as Hurricane Irma swept the Florida Keys. In the middle of this movement, there is a sudden silence representing the arrival of the eye of the hurricane and the score creates the lament of a frigate bird caught in the storm. The movement ends as the eye passes and the rest of the hurricane arrives. The sixth movement “Raising the Waters,” represents the aftermath of the hurricane and flooding of the island with rapid ascending musical figures. The final movement, “As the Island Sunsets Into the Sea,” is a fanfare comprised of primarily descending musical gestures to conclude the piece.
The score is dedicated to Maestra Sebrina Maria Alfonso for her devotion to music and her love for the island where she was born and raised, Key West.