DISTANT SIERRAS is inspired by the beautiful stretch of Interstate-10 that runs between sprawling Los Angeles and the isolated Sonoran desert community of Palm Springs, a resort town and celebrity getaway famous for its 100-degree temperatures, countless swimming pools, and beautiful vistas.
After driving for about an hour outside of downtown Los Angeles, the industries and smog slowly dissipate, replaced now by miles of sand, brush, and desert life. Driving eastbound on I-10, the San Bernardino Mountains lie on the left, the San Jacinto Mountains on the right. On a clear day these towering peaks stand majestic, though they are quite often blanketed in a thick haze formed high within the arid atmosphere. At dusk, the air largely clears up, and the hills now teem with color and shadow. And at nightfall, though cloaked in darkness, the amorphous mountains are still prominent, standing as massive, even foreboding shadows in the distance.
The work is constructed on a broad musical canvas, an aural landscape based on one extensive theme made of two distinct parts: the first is a lyrical yet disjunct melody beginning in the oboe; the second is a brief, cascading line with a sweeter, gentler tone.
—Jules Pegram (2012)