Laplante: Thank You Is Not Enough

Program Note

Thank You is Not Enough was commissioned by the Ecstatic Music Festival for Terry Riley's 80th Birthday celebration at Merkin Hall in NYC. 

I had a single experience with Terry Riley's music as a teenager that I will never forget, and which I held in my heart as I composed Thank You is Not Enough: I used to go to Border Books in West Lebanon, NH and spend many hours listening to unfamiliar music at the "listening stations". (This was back in the ancient time of CDs and CD stores.) One day I put on headphones and pressed “ lay" to a CD called Reqium For Adam, a recording of Terry Riley's piece for the Kronos Quartet. It is a tribute to the violinist’s son, who died at the age of 16 on a hiking trip. I remember listening to this music with tears running down my face and a simultaneous sense of something breaking inside of me. So, the initial inspiration for the piece was this experience of being broken through sound. 

After the birthday concert it was clear that the piece was not finished and went beyond that one experience at the listening station when I was 18 years old.  There was something else, something deeper that was hiding within the notes that wanted to become more conscious. It was around this time that more opportunities to perform Thank You is Not Enough presented themselves, including multiple requests to perform the piece in marriage ceremonies.

As I continued to work on the composition, it more consciously became a spinning. A spinning where the structures that prevent love are invited to fall away. The closest thing I have seen in my life that resembles this motion is last Spring when I witnessed my wife and her teacher dancing. The two women held each others’ arms while they spun through space and time. I could feel the love between them as I watched them look into the eyes of the other. As they continued to turn, I had the experience of their individuality beginning to dissolve. The rate of the spinning continued to increase until, to my eyes, they completely disappeared.

This is where the piece stands at the moment. Perhaps it is now complete. Perhaps it will continue to change. Maybe I will change the name of it now that it is something different than what it was a year ago. I do not know. It is a mystery, and it is alive, and I don't want to try to domesticate it.

—Travis Laplante