“Journey for Gold” from “California Collage”


In  2012, I composed "Journey for Gold.”  This piece describes the California Gold Rush from the point of view of the miners and the women left at home.  It was premiered at the MTAC 2013 Convention after having won a prize in the Composers Today Competition. ”Journey” was subsequently performed at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Holy Names University Alumni Association in October, 2013; and again by the Diablo Valley College Concert Chorale in April, 2014.

I have always been intrigued with the idea that people leave the relative comfort of their homes and risk their safety in an effort to find fortune and a better life.  This is what happened in the Gold Rush.  "Journey for Gold" uses two contrasting themes, the robust "Ox Driving Song" and the melancholy, "California Boy." It portrays the unpredictable trek across the country to the California gold fields. The syncopated “boogie” rhythm in the piano symbolizes a bumpy ride in a covered wagon.  Although some people made their fortunes in the Gold Rush, (1849–1855) most did not. There was often heartache and disappointment in this venture, not only for miners but also for the women left behind. Beyond the lack of success in attaining riches, many miners lost their lives in this endeavor.  The marriage of the two musical themes in "Journey" reveals both unbridled optimism and the sad reality of the experience. 

“Journey for Gold” was originally composed for women’s chorus, but later expanded to include men.  Along with the music, I have created a slide show featuring original paintings and photographs of the era.  

In my next post, I described “Laying Rails,’ the last movement of “California Collage.”