Two Girls on the Beach

Two Girls on the Beach

or, its full title:

Two Girls on the Beach, Looking for Different Places to Put Down Their Towels

Year: 2005

Heading: for woodwind quintet

First Performance:
St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble
Chelsea Museum
16 April 2005

Duration: 13'30

Program Note:

The sound of five woodwind instruments in a quintet can sometimes have a treble resonance that gives the impression of nimbleness, buoyancy, and guilelessness.  I thought of how young girls, arriving at the beach, have a charming narcissism as they try to hide their awareness that all eyes are on them.  The brightness of the beach, the summery, glistening expectations we have when normal cares are cast aside and recreation takes over is the spirit of this music. You will hear five themes; five possible locations the girls might put down their towels, and a kind of general music, that weaves in between (and that is first heard and developed at the beginning) depicting our ambling protagonists.  The all-important decision of where to put down their towels becomes a task that consumes the entire afternoon, exhausting the time to sun bathe, such that by the time a site is finally chosen, it is time to go home! 

Here are the subheadings, found in the musician’s parts, and the score.

  • They arrive at the beach; a bit tentative at first
  • They begin to look around...
  • ...and gather confidence
  • Here’s a good, bright stretch of sand!
  • They decide this spot wasn't right, so they move on
  • One looks here; the other looks there
  • How about under these palm trees with the ocean breeze?
  • No, being in the sun is paramount, especially with their new tanning oils.  They go.
  • Glancing over at the beach bar, they remember their admirers from last season
  • But the time is now, where would a good spot be?
  • The sand is awfully hot on their feet.
  • They run along the beach shore; quite cognizant that everyone is watching them!
  • What about next to those  people over there?
  • A somewhat more secluded spot is finally found; they spread their towels
  • But alas! The sun is lower; they will have to be leaving soon]
  • They leave

Two Girls at the Beach was commissioned by The Orchestra of St. Luke’s for Joan Tower’s Second Helping Series in New York City.