Thrice Parting for Yangguan is based on a Chinese poem and song from the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei. The poem depicts friends about to part ways. Yangguan (“Yang Gate”) was a pass near the western end of the Great Wall where an oasis town was the westernmost cultural and administrative center. For an official traveling west, this was the last stop before entering the foreign lands of Central Asia. When I first heard this haunting traditional melody, I was inspired to set this melody in the context of new music, like a good friend entering foreign territory.