Never mind the label. What it means to describe is a flavorful stew of languages and idioms, now used in an integrative, harmonious way (as contrasted with the sometimes abrupt clashes and studied, willful juxtapositions of "high" postmodernism).

     After five years of muddling around in postmodern music theater, I was invited to participate in a collaborative venture with The Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco and Kitka, a California based, Bulgarian-style choir, directed by composer Bon Brown. The aim of the collaboration, "Ancient Echoes Across the Stara Planina," was to reconcile two distinctly different worlds: the raw, seductive earthiness of Eastern European singing, passed from one generation of women to the next by aural rather than written codes, and the institution of the Western orchestra, with its heavy investment in precision, predictability, and linearity.

     The mere creation of a written score and parts was a formidable challenge: the obligation of specifying exact pitches and rhythms seemed out of sync with the fluid temporality and fuzzy contours of Bulgarian instinct and style. The presence of a conductor also presented a problem, since traditionally this figure functions as an authority and time-regulator, not as a moderator who undertakes to balance diverse and sometimes conflicting orientations.

     The experiences surrounding "Ancient Echoe"s launched me on a new course, initiating an outpouring of approachable new works within a relatively brief period. These include "Villages of the Earth" (1996; for SATB choir and percussion), with text by Meridel LeSueur); "The Dreamweaver" (1996; for orchestra and narrator), based on a Chinese folk tale; "Cafés of Melbourne" (1997; for orchestra and accordion), three portraits of café life in Melbourne, Australia; "Wataridori" ("Bird of Passage," 1997; for SATB choir and oboe), adaptations of three haiku by the Japanese poets Issa, Ryushi, and Kyorai; and "Beijing Cai Hong" ("Colorful Rainbow of Beijing," 1998; for SATB choir, Chinese pipa, and violin), based on writings by participants in the International Conference on Women convened in Beijing in 1995. All these pieces draw on humanitarian themes and a global perspective; they reflect the current of social reconstructionism which has recently swept through the arts in the United States, and form the foundation of the works to be composed over the course of my three-year, community-based Meet the Composer residency with four organizations in the Twin Cities (1999-2002). After that, if not before, it is safe to predict the emergence of a fourth phase. May its label, when it gets one, not begin with "post"!