Repurification (Laura, Ryan and the Thunderstorm) is the expansion of a piece composed by Thomas Wenglinski in November of 2017, which itself was inspired by Ryan McGinley’s masterful 2008 photograph entitled ‘Laura (Thunderstorm)’. He was introduced to McGinley’s work via its inclusion in a touring exhibit at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art, and every element of this particular photograph immediately hit him on a deep level—the cold, blue-grey clouds providing a rather bleak backdrop mitigated only by the youthful, earnest and seemingly pure presence of a dark-haired woman—leaving him feeling practically required to recapture the emotional range of the piece through his own medium.
While only a single-movement, continuous piece, Repurification entails several distinct sections, each of which can be interpreted as one of the three subjects identified in the subtitle—the somber-yet-searching ballad theme (first presented by the melodica) symbolizing the visual master Ryan; the more upbeat waltz theme symbolizing the optimistic and bright-eyed Laura; and finally, the chaotic interlude (including the appropriately frenzied alto saxophone solo) symbolizing the mysterious and elusive thunderstorm, which then unfolds into the climax of the piece, including a triumphant restatement of Ryan and Laura’s themes.
The overall effect Thomas Wenglinski intended to achieve through this piece was the acknowledgement of chaos and mysterious phenomena in nature (including their ability to shake us to our core), followed by the equal and often overpowering ability of the human spirit to overcome them. He knows no specifics of Ryan’s or Laura’s journeys, but the picture itself provides enough background for the general retelling of this brief moment along it.