our bliss, it comes in waves

our bliss, it comes in waves, my first full-length piece for orchestra, explores contrasting musical and thematic elements in hopes of peacefully achieving a sense of compromise. Conceptually and aesthetically, I found myself reconciling disparate qualities such as: liquid vs. solid, diffused vs. concentrated, transparent vs. translucent (and/or opaque), exposed vs. obscured, rigid vs. flexible, primal (body) vs. transcendental (spirit), and diatonic harmony vs. pentatonic harmony. The piece begins with pitched percussion, piano and horns attempting to establish themselves as thematic material. Their wave-like patterns are stark, naked and mechanical, and they become an important contrasting element when the other families of instruments finally enter. Through disjunctive, herky-jerky starts and stops that alternate between diatonic and pentatonic melodies, the percussion and horns eventually arrive at the main theme of the piece. As the piece progresses, every repetition of the theme introduces a new family of instruments. The strings, woodwinds and brass each stretch and pull the flow in a collage-like fashion. These instrumental families move in wave patterns of different rates and virtually eradicate any sense of a constant pulse. Throughout the piece, these families always appear as mass sonorities; their size and depth are controlled by dynamics, register and gesture. Entrances usually appear out of nowhere and either overlap or jump cut with the waves that come before and after. The overall effect is that of time being bent or sculpted, and the cyclical return of the main theme helps create a non-linear journey. Harmonically, the strings and brass are often diametrically opposed (diatonic vs. pentatonic) while the woodwinds explore the gray areas in between. The piece climaxes with the synchronization of the different families of instruments, each a tributary in a flowing river of sound. A sparkling, shimmering brass finale then overtakes this peaceful stream. This piece is dedicated to Noah Podgursky, the newest member of my family.

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ACO Performances

Colorado Symphony Orchestra Earshot New Music Readings (2009)

July 17, 2009 12:00 am
Boettcher Concert Hall

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