Kiss Around the World was commissioned by New Works Calgary and the Canada Council for the Arts for Ensemble Resonance. It is the second Around the World piece that I have written, taking a single word—in this case kiss—and presenting it in a wide variety of languages.
The idea of kissing takes on very different connotations in different languages, and I wanted to find a connotation that was as universal as possible. Therefore, in Kiss Around the World I decided to focus on the idea of the nurturing kiss, the kiss a parent would give a child. This was the most universal use of kissing I came across. Romantic kissing, which is what I initially thought would make the best focus, is not universal. It did not exist in much of Asia before the arrival of the Europeans; Koreans and Japanese actually use a modified form of the English word for romantic kissing.
Musically, Kiss Around the World is made up of a series of short sound units, usually one per word, that are arranged and developed into a lyrical, flowing texture. Being a composer obsessed with fragmentation and contrast, this was a novel and stimulating challenge for me that grew out of the theme of the piece and the musical materials at hand. The result is a soothing, gentle piece that has certain aspects of a lullaby, all the while employing the collage/mosaic techniques that are the hallmarks of my style. There is even a little collage surprise at the end of the piece . . .