Many in One: Heidi Jacob

When considering the possibilities for writing a string orchestra piece I was immediately struck by the homogeneous nature of the medium as well as the lush, lyrical possibilities of the great romantic string orchestra works by Dvorák, Elgar,Tchaikovsky and Samuel Barber. However, I also wanted to explore the rich contrasts of color and orchestration in works such as Bartok’s Divertimento.

This work is a dialogue between solitary and collective identities.  Structurally the work is palindromic, beginning with a solo violin that makes it way to the fulcrum of the work, a fugue that commences in the second violins.  At various points, unison rhythmic gestures break apart to become contrapuntal. The use of solo instruments in the work is meant to reflect historically, going back to the concerto grosso of the Baroque era.

The title of the work, Many in One, is from Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name from his Leaves of Grass. The question of the private, isolated versus cooperative and communal in America that Whitman speaks to in this poem has resonance today, going beyond our country, and the struggles the world continues to face.

from Many in One

Leaves of Grass 1856
Walt Whitman


Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, nature,
governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive
other lessons,
Underneath all to me is myself—to you, your-
If all had not kernels for you and me, what were
it to you and me?


I match my spirit against yours, your orbs, growths,
mountains, brutes,
I will learn why the earth is gross, tantalizing,
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude

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