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.