Next year, the house I live in will be 100 years old. When it was built, the lake just outside my window was little more than a swamp, filled with water, fowl and wild rice. Surrounding the lake were country estates, built to be as hunting lodges. In the 1890's, my house was in the country.

This year, I look out my door into a forest of traffic signs which obscure my view of the water. The dredged lake is fortified by cement walls and iron railings. When the weather is fair, hundreds of thousands of people use the lake twenty-four hours a day. The lake is there, constant, always. The world around it is there, changing, always.

So it seems to go with music. Throughout this century, music has been with us. It's melodies, rhythms, colors, textures, forms and instruments have accompanied us as we migrate across this country, culturally relocating ourselves within a constantly change society. It's this ritual of migration which seduced me to create a work with orchestra and dance. This is not a dance. It is not an orchestra piece with movement. It is a piece of music-theater which explores the ritual of migration, and the vehicles we choose to transport the essence of what we with to retain in our new cultural configuration.

When Brenda and I I developed the metaphor of women and migration as the basis for our work, I left the movement to her, and focused on the migration of sound between the early 1800's and present day. Sound, and the groups of musicians who represent it, has migrated as surely and strongly as all the other aspects of our culture. Sound, which began in monodirectional presentation in the concert hall, is now heard mixed through speakers coming from multi-directions. Noise has migrated into the domain of musical sound by means of the sampler. At the end of the 1800's, sound was dominated by the high registers of the violin sections. Throughout this century, sound has relocated to the bass, and with the proliferation of speakers, electric basses, electric drums, and digital mixing, bass dominated sound has come to dominate treble dominated sound.

As sound has changed, so have groupings of musicians. The turn of the century band has a counterpart in the garage band. The string quartet, which was the darling of the chamber experience, now finds a parallel in the pop combo. Ghosts of grand opera haunt the rock show. And the orchestra itself? While its structure maintains, the groupings within its structure are beginning to shift. It seems to me that in 1991, our old ceremonies of listening and looking as separate ways of understanding a complex world have been redefined by a new perception found in post-70's audiences.

While music is there and constant, always, musical perception has changed. "Ghosts of an Old Ceremony" is a music-theater piece about this expansion and change. It's truth is how women maintain change and retain essence.

Libby Larsen, 1991