Benjamin Park is an active composer and native of Boston, Massachusetts. He began formally studying music composition at MIT and completed both a master’s degree and artist diploma at the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut, before moving to the New England Conservatory for his doctoral program. He is currently teaching part-time at Boston College and at NEC, where he also co-chairs the Tuesday Night New Music concert series.
The title For Purple Mountains is (at least) a triple entendre: perhaps most obviously, it references the “purple mountain majesties” lyric from Katharine Lee Bates's poem “America the Beautiful.” (In turn, the composition alludes to that song’s melody, written separately by Samuel A. Ward.)
Another meaning behind For Purple Mountains is the landscape that has served as the backdrop for the piece’s premiere in Boulder, Colorado—and, as it turns out, the purple mountain majesties seen by Bates that inspired her to write the text were also in Colorado (Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs).
Finally, the title hints at the “Crossing the Divide” theme of the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival for which the work was written: while the ‘divide’ the festival seeks to bridge is one between performers and audience members, For Purple Mountains was composed with this country’s stark political divide in mind, one that is admittedly much harder to mend. One might think of the precarious common ground as a purple mountain – a mix between blue and red that is easier to see than it is to traverse.
You can also listen to a 30-minute pre-concert talk about the piece: