I’ve been involved with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for the last five years. My wife, Emiley, followed her passion for the sea and originally joined the organization as a volunteer, and followed that by accepting a position in WHOI’s administration. She is currently the Deputy General Counsel, and participates in policy and planning for all facets of the organization, which is involved in cutting-edge ocean research all over the world.
When they asked me to perform at their virtual gala in October. I chose Debussy’s piano prelude “La Cathedrale Engloutie,” a piece I have always loved but never gotten around to learning. Debussy’s gorgeous work, which dates from 1910, is a quintessential example of his impressionist style. Its veiled musical imagery paints the subtle play of wind, water, and light. Its program tells of an old Breton legend, about a magical cathedral that rises, on certain crystal-clear mornings, from the watery depths. One hears music that depicts dawn on the ocean, muted sounds of monk’s chanting, bells pealing and the cathedral organ in its full glory as the edifice breaks the surface of the water, and then the long, slow diminuendo as the mystical cathedral returns to the depths.
I chose this piece for them because, at its core, the story it tells is one of humanity’s age-old fascination with what lies below the surface of our oceans. Woods Hole is dedicated to just that knowledge. For more information on this extraordinary institution, please visit WHOI.edu.