The Unchanging Sea is the latest collaboration in a long-running partnership between composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison. This is their fifth work for orchestra over the course of nearly two decades; starting with Decasia in 2001, the two developed a style that combined Gordon’s haunting, hypnotic music with Morrison’s artful manipulations of old, deteriorating film reels to craft a dreamlike experience that’s by turns whimsical, nostalgic and inspiring.
Co-commissioned and performed by the Seattle Symphony and featuring piano soloist Tomoko Mukaiyama, The Unchanging Sea flows from Gordon’s fascination with our connection to our watery source, in all its turbulence, majesty and mystery. While the title and visual material originate with a 1910 short film by silent era director D.W. Griffith, Morrison’s film also includes footage shot in Seattle in 1897, when the S.S. Willamette sailed out of Puget Sound at the height of the gold rush.
The Unchanging Sea is a double-disc CD + DVD package. The CD includes the companion piece Beijing Harmony, also performed by the Seattle Symphony. Inspired by a visit to the Echo Wall at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, Gordon “imagined that the sound would bounce off the stone floors and buildings to create a fanfare of echoes — an acoustical rebounding and ringing that would slowly grow in zeal and fierceness.”