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Program Notes: A


    I’m interested in the way things that are initially distinct and quite different can become part of the same thing. We hear about how immigrants are absorbed into a culture and, in so doing, change the culture. If we are absorbed in a wonderful book or an activity, it’s almost as if we have been taken over by or entered into the book or activity.

    In Absorb, there are two distinct elements: a G major triad (GBD) and a 3-note chord built in 4ths (Ab Db Gb). They initially are very distinct (no notes in common, separated in space by register, shortness of duration, different instrumental colors). Then the absorption begins—the two chords touch in time (full quarter notes), then they overlap. But there are other absorption paths as well, for instance, scale passages form from all the available notes and elongate, so that the two entities are no longer distinct. The more melodic sections are where the real absorption is accomplished, because the melodies and their accompaniments utilize all the pitch resources and let go of register and tone color differences. Essentially, a new ‘culture’ is created.


Reaching an accord can be a desirable outcome where differences and disagreements prevent productive or positive results--in personal and work relationships, in labor-management negotiations, within and between organizations, and amongst nations. It is challenging to understand and then accommodate an array of positions and identities and then to weave them together in a way that maximizes coherence without minimizing the value of all the elements.


Accord seeks to reach a grand accord amongst distinct and seemingly opposed musical identities. There are three metric identities (symmetric, asymmetric, and ametric) and two pitch collection identities (a pitch centric collection and a 7-note synthetic scale that avoids a tonal center). The metric identities do not have a one-to-one relationship with the pitch collections, but combine in various ways to create a series of nine continuous sections, each a step along the way towards the ninth section, "The Grand Accord."

Pensive, yearning; Purposeful; Groove; Easement; Pensive with purpose; Re-entering the groove; Purposeful; DetenteThe Grand Accord


Achieving Sprezzatura

Achieving Sprezzatura explores the tension between a carefully constructed external nonchalance and an internal, private reality.


Always A New Now
The title, Always A New Now, comes from Michael Colgrass’ book My Lessons With Kumi, in which Kumi extols the benefits of reacting like a dog: “To a dog, a misstep is gone the moment it happens, because the dog is already paying attention to the next moment. There is no ‘mistake’ because there is no past. And there’s no fear, because there’s no future. There is only now…and now…and now.”  The flex instrumentation approach was a way of connecting to Kumi’s idea that “there is only now…and now…and now.” The trio might work with “this combination…or this combination…or this combination.” Another way to think about it is this idea which comes up in my life surprisingly often: There is not one right answer here.

Anchoring: Yin-Yang...Shadow...Melodia...Merge, for violin and alto saxophone
Anchoring has four distinct sections, each solidly anchored in its own way. Yin-Yang alternates between two very distinct characters in a yin-yang fashion; Shadow is anchored by reflecting around a core interval in rhythmic unison; Melodia is anchored by pitch-centricity. Each section first establishes the anchor, then celebrates the fun and outlandish departures made possible by the secure anchor. Merge, the fourth, ending section, intermixes the differently anchored materials in a celebration of the coexistence of diverse anchoring possibilities. Anchoring was written for saxophonist Thomas Snydacker. He and violinist Autumn Chodorowski premiered it.


Flute ensemble was the last thing I thought I would ever write for, but the opportunity to write for an ensemble that included a contrabass flute (as low as a cello!) pushed aside my bias and led to Arc. Arc celebrates the lovely range of the ensemble, from the low of the contra to the highs of the piccolo, by tracing through a series of arcs, and intermixes those with percussive homorhythms, sustained lines, and monophony.

n Rhodes Music.

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