for flute, viola and harp

Written: 1999
Duration: 10'
Instrumentation: flute (doubling alto flute), viola and harp
Commissioned by the Cornell Council for the Arts
Premiere: Robert Vroegindeweij, flute; Jethro Marks, viola; Ann Yeung, harp; Cornell University, Barnes Hall, Ithaca, NY, April 2, 2000.
Selected Additional PerformancesAmerican Modern Ensemble, Deciduous Trio, Locrian Chamber Players, Naiades Ensemble, New York Harp Trio, Trio St. Germain, Trio Sirens
PublisherBill Holab Music

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My original inspiration for Embracing the Wind was the image of an Olympic athlete running against the wind. The process of writing this work eventually shifted me to more abstract thoughts, such as the concept of creating music that sounds flexible and has wind-like, ebb-and-flow qualities. I try to achieve this by creating musical zephyrs from repeated motives and smooth phrases that utilize gradual dynamic swells and subtle tempo fluctuations. In this sense, Embracing the Wind is perhaps more minimal and Romantic than many of my other pieces: minimal in that cells that are repeated over and over again as textural background, Romantic in that the form is intentionally less severe and also has a narrative, structural quality.

Press Quotes

Robert Patersom’s Embracing the Wind for flute, harp and viola [performance by the Locrian Chamber Players] was good enough, and rarely heard enough, to justify the group’s decision to relax its policy (and, perhaps, to make you wonder whether there really is much point to the decade rule)... At the beginning of Mr. Paterson’s work, each instrument inhabits its own distinct sound world: the harp produces rolling arpeggios; the flute plays graceful, slightly exotic melodies; and the viola offers brusque, combative counterpoint. But Mr. Paterson gradually alters each line, having each take on characteristics of the others at first, eventually softening the edges to create a tightly knit... dreamlike wash.
— Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
...a charming and pleasant work making good use of the darker qualities of the viola and makes a terrific entry to the fairly sparse catalog of new works involving viola.
— Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Audition (Review of The Book of Goddesses Album(
[Performance by the London-based Naiades Ensemble] ...an altogether more convincing work by a New York based composer... The piece had a dramatic opening, and was performed with precise, even technical control from all of the players. An extended viola solo was played with energy and conviction, and the composer made excellent use of the rich sonorities of the alto flute to good effect... this work presented opportunities for all of the players to shine.
— Carla Rees, MusicWeb International
Made of small cells of melody that tend to repeat and recycle at various tempi and various textures, this a fairly minimal sounding work that has some beautiful alto flute and cello interplay against a harp. This, too, is a very attractive and compelling work.
— Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Audition (Star Crossing Album)
...Embracing the Wind started out as the intended depiction of an Olympic runner against the wind, but became more abstract as work progressed, distilled down finally to wind-like fundamentals. As pure chamber music it is enchanting.
— Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International