"Chugach" Symphony, Op. 14 - 3rd movement: "Sphinx Island Elegy" was written during the weeks after the Exxon Valdez catastrophe.
Sphinx Island, on Prince William Sound, was in the path of the spill. I imagine a wise, living entity, the Sphinx of Sphinx Island. She observes the spill, the progress of the oil, the ineffectual efforts at cleaning up the mess. She sadly adjusts to her new asphalt girdle, watching the humans squabble as they leave. She muses "If they handle all their problems this way, they won't be around for long."
The work is performed here by the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, directed by Stephen Stein, in a performance on October 8, 1989.
I wrote this over the summer of 1989, as the spill was being dealt with so ineptly and expensively.
It is dedicated to Riki Ott.
Listen to it here.