Migration Variations

…a moving piece of music. I really revisit the ups and downs of my friends' journeys as I listen to it, and love the elements of hope that shine through. [Migration Variations] really encapsulates the emotions which I was trying to evoke with the book… Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, author of Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe's Refugee Crisis

The story of humankind is a story of exploitation, exploration, and relocation. It is our nature to migrate—but there is nothing natural about the violent conditions which uproot many present-day migrants and refugees. Migration Variations takes human migration as its subject, with the final variation depicting butterfly migration in order to remind us that non-human animals also migrate to escape inhospitable conditions.

The theme as it is presented in the beginning is a series of ever-descending intervals, continually plummeting into despair. When the theme is reprised at the end, the intervals are inverted so that they now reach upward, expressing hope. Over the course of five variations, the melody “migrates” from the initial version of the theme to the final version, mirroring the migration of humans from a place of danger and instability to a place of peace.


  • For two pianos & two percussionists
  • Category: Chamber Ensemble
  • Year Composed: 2019
  • Duration: 10'
  • Orchestration: 2 pf, 2 perc.
  • Tags: Social Justice
  • View Score ›


  • 2021
  • ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Award
  • Finalist


  • 25 FEB 2020
  • Migration Variations - Premiere
  • UCLA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Veola Sun, piano 1; Brandon Zhou, piano 2; Robby Good, perc. 1; Cash Langi, perc. 2
  • 23 NOV 2019
  • Migration Variations - Reading
  • UCLA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Yarn/Wire