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No Place To Get To

No Place to Get to


Strings, English Horns, Guitar. Premiered by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, 1998. Also available for string quintet, guitar, and English horn or clarinet.

Composer’s Notes: No Place to Get to

From a concert preview in The Tennessean, by Alan Bostick:

This 10-minute work calls for a guitar (played by guest Russ Barenburg) and English horn (guest Paula Engerer) to join the strings.

But those few minutes, for Ellisor, are the fruit of months of reading, contemplation, and consideration; of exploring literary, musical and emotional resonances from earlier in life; and of working to give voice to a mode of living that’s largely lost in these days of TV channel-changers and drive-through eateries.

“If music doesn’t move me, why do?” she said.

“There are so many moments we lose by not being fully awake. I have just wanted to understand how to really wake up to every moment of my life.”

If that sounds vaguely mystical and perhaps poetic, it is both.

Ellisor drew her inspiration for No Place to Get to from a 13th-century poet name Rumi (officially Mevlana Jalal-e-Din Mevlavi Rumi). Born in today’s Afghanistan, Rumi wrote poems that commentators describe as dealing with divine love and mystical ecstasy.

Ellisor referred specifically to these Rumi passages: “Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to,” a line which gave Ellisor the title for her music.

“Don’t try to see through the distances/That’s not for human beings…Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened/Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading/Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do./There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Ellisor has had a long-standing fascination with the poet: “Its’ something I turn to quite often.”

“In this particular poem, the idea of not staying in your fear, of doing what you love helps you realize that everything we do is in some way a celebration of life and a form of reverence.”

That thought happened to be precisely what Ellisor wished to express in this music, the writing of which has coincided with the serious illness of close relative.

The main theme of the piece is something Ellisor has carried with her for 20 years: “I’ve been waiting to find a home for it,” she said.