In 2007 in a feat that went largely unnoticed an expedition of ultra-cavers reached the deepest point in the deepest cave on earth in Krubera in the Republic of Georgia. Considered the Mt. Everest of caving, this expedition to the bottom of Krubera was racing against a similar expedition in Mexico’s Cheve cave system both vying for title of world’s deepest cave. Explorers at each camp spent weeks at a time underground in deafening environments and often in absolute darkness. In the book Blind Descent that chronicles this historical accomplishment, author James Tabor touches on an experience all ultra-cavers undergo at some point in their career, a phenomenon known as “The Rapture.”
After weeks underground, absent from normal circadian rhythms, some climbers experience a near crippling onset of emotion, and a primal need to escape. The Rapture is described by climbers as exponentially worse than a panic attack and at times a near religious experience.
While this piece is neither about religion nor super caving, I wanted to capture a blueprint that I think is a universal human experience: the onset of extreme emotion. Similar to extreme emotional states, musical elements in this piece start almost insignificantly and are magnified to their extremes, echoing throughout.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
"Harlin's Rapture is arresting"
–– BBC Music
"Rapture is a no less adventurous journey that leads from a series of beguiling, unconventional tunes to a final exhilarating sweep of events."
–– Gramophone Magazine
Harlin's "aesthetics capture a sense of tradition and innovation."
–– New York Times
"Rapture is imaginative, intense, dazzling and, dare I say absolutely beautiful."
–– I CARE IF YOU LISTEN
"Rapture demonstrated both imagination and skill, qualities that are self-recommending. One can only hope for more performances and a bright future for the talented young composer.
–– Calgary Herald
"Harlin utilizes a dazzling, diverse set of orchestral colors, which made for a vivid, "high-definition" experience...I was left wanting more of Harlin's music -- about 20 minutes or so, actually...here's hoping that a more long-form symphonic piece will appear in a future season."
–– Daniel J. Kushner,
CITY Newspaper, Rochester
At its conclusion, Rapture surveys the brink of sanity and, with a big ending, magically lifts us above the conflict. Harlin set out to create music about being overwhelmed and overcome by emotion, and he succeeds with Rapture.
Democrat and Chronicle