Chris Mansfield


Westminster College


Chris Mansfield is a recent graduate from Westminster College where he completed a double-major in music and biology. He studied cello performance with Pegsoon Whang of the Utah Symphony and has had private instruction in piano and composition from teachers at Westminster and the University of Utah. He was fortunate enough to receive the 2015 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship from Friends of Great Salt Lake, which allowed him to present the undergraduate research he conducted in Dr. Frank Black’s lab on methylmercury cycling at the 2016 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum. He is excited to be back at the 2018 Issues Forum to perform a piece he wrote as a submission for the Friends of Great Salt Lake Alfred Lambourne Prize.

Thursday, May 10th at 6:30 PM during the Alta Club Banquet

Performance for Piano and Voice: Savage Poem Around Me

Abstract: My composition includes lyrics from Alfred Lambourne's "Our Inland Sea" (public domain). As such, it is based on Lambourne's and my experiences at the lake. Lambourne provides descriptive imagery of the lake in winter, but also details his emotional response to being alone in the immense wilderness--a response that is similar to my own.

I lose my sense of time and place along the shore. The scenery mirrors scenery that came before, and yet there is always something new and beautiful! I go no where, despite walking miles, or the opposite: I travel miles without moving my feet. There is an all-encompassing sense of eternity by the water that is both inviting and isolating. It is this paradox I am attempting to convey through sound.

In music, meter and harmony keep time and movement. Thus, I use irregular meter and harmony to maintain stasis. Large block chords echo the expansive surroundings, while the singer voices Lamborne's solitude. The music converges on glissandi with the lyrics "waters." Thus, the rippling piano symbolizes the rippling water. The inner section reduces to a more intimate texture with an anxious chromatic bass line, serving to shift focus from the surroundings to the internal conflicts Lambourne describes in the corresponding text. Gradually the music expands, returning to block chords and the ultimate grandeur of the lake.


Why We Care

  • The lake is elemental. It seems to arise from creation itself, the embodiment of Aristotle's classical concept of matter and the universe: earth, air, fire, and water. Seen in this ethereal light -- the gloom of dusk lit by fiery sunlight, alien and snow-covered, leaking water and struggling to exist -- it connects to secret and ancient things. Aristotle's insight may have come to him in a dream, and the dream surely looked like this.

    Thomas Horton, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant