‘Man in Hot Pot’ from ‘Hot Water Suites’ by Roni Horn
Rise is a brief orchestral essay on moving upward. The music is one extended ramp, an awakening followed by a brief fall, landing somewhere different then where it began. It is also a meditation on the idea of the pastoral. From Vivaldi to Strauss, there is a long tradition of evoking the pastoral landscape in symphonic music. What does it mean to romanticize nature in the post-industrial, climate-changing 21st century? Perhaps this explains the somewhat haunting mood of the piece. There is a celebration of the natural world, but also an unsettled feeling that never resolves.
This excerpt is a recording by the American Composers Orchestra from their 23rd annual Underwood New Music Readings, part of the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural biennial. George Manahan conducts.
Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#492 (North Slope Alaska/ 24 hours), 2011.
Arctic is a response to photographer Chris McCaw’s Sunburn series, a body of work exploring extended direct exposures of photo paper to sunlight. The long exposures, sometimes up to 24 hours, magnify the sun’s rays resulting in a literal burning of the paper. The result is an incinerated trace of the sun’s motion across a hazy, negative image of surrounding landscape. Combining pastoral beauty with a visceral physicality, the images evoke feelings of time, materiality and abstraction.
My piece Arctic responds to a pair of photos taken in Alaska, north of the arctic circle. Shot close to the summer solstice they are nearly 24 hour long exposures of the midnight sun. These images, huge 12 panel works, document the sun’s long, sinuous path across a barren, mountainous landscape. Arctic imagines both the midnight sun and the opposite phenomenon, polar night, or the 24 hours of darkness that occur during the winter solstice.
The first movement, Midnight Sun, is short and fast. Its relentless bright energy continues uninterrupted, pausing only to catch quick breaths before pushing forward. The second movement, Polar Night, begins slowly with a simple, undulating theme set against a long passacaglia figure. The music builds in intensity as flickers of color and grit emerge from the texture. As the intensity recedes we are left with the opening theme set against a slowly shifting harmony.
In both movements you will also hear traces of the burning found in McCaw’s photos. Musical lines dissolve into brittle color, harmony grinds into noise, and holes sometimes appear, recalling the seared paper of McCaw’s images.
Arctic was commissioned by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.
Check out an excerpt of the ‘Midnight Sun’ movement. Rehearsal recording by the Mivos Quartet.
Midnight Sun from Arctic
To purchase a score and part set please click here
premiered 11.20.13 in Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City by the Mivos Quartet
My long time friend, writer, filmmaker and real-life recipient of these emails wrote a really beautiful liner note, and the amazing Laura Grey did the album artwork and design. I think their words and images express what this album is far more eloquently than my rambling prose, so check out the digital booklet here and see what it’s all about!
Excited to announce I’ve been selected as the winner of the Clefworks Composition Competition. The Del Sol String Quartet will perform my string quartet Arctic in Montgomery, AL and the kind folks at Clefworks are bringing me down for the weekend. I’m really looking forward to working with Del Sol and I’m also pretty psyched about escaping this for a bit.
TIGUE went into the recording studio to lay down ‘An Index of Possibility’. We had a great time with Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio. It’s sounding amazing. I love working in the studio. So fun to break down a piece and hear it anew in a studio setting. Stay tuned for details about a future release!
In the meantime checkout video from my Yale DMA recital with TIGUE playing the crap out of the piece. They play with incredible energy and focus. It’s pretty fun to watch:
So excited to finally announce the return of the Vivaldi Project! On November 13, at 700PM the Sebastians will present the entire Night Scenes at the Ospedale alongside four concerti from Vivaldi’s L’estro armonico. The program will be at the beautiful Italian Academy at 1161 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City. More details here.
In the mean time read all about the Vivaldi Project here, and check out this lovely review of a recent Sebastian concert here.
Super psyched to be a part of the upcoming Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with David Lang and Claire Chase. I’ll be writing a new string quartet for MIVOS. Premiere on November 20 at Zankel. Can’t wait!