Constructions for flute quartet was written during the summer break of 1987 just after my sophomore year of college at the University of North Texas. Each of the four short pieces explores a single compositional idea related to my discoveries as a young composer.
Sleep’s Undulating Tide takes its inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s poem Variations on the Word Sleep. Her expressive text reveals desire, intimacy, and longing -- “I would like to sleep with you, to enter your sleep as its smooth dark wave slides over my head.” Atwood’s imagery progresses through a dream-like state where she desires to accompany her lover through the beauty of a “lucent wavering forest of bluegreen leaves” and then into a foreboding darkness “towards the cave where you must descend, toward your worst fear.” Her continuing journey references Orpheus’s descent into hell to rescue Eurydice by yearning to “become the boat that would row you back carefully.” Atwood’s evocative poem ends with a simple yet profound expression to “be the air that inhabits you for a moment only”, with its intent to be simultaneously unimportant yet vital. Sleeps Undulating Tide was commissioned by Phoenix Concerts for Lindsey Goodman and is dedicated to her with appreciation and admiration.
Chiaroscuro, a piece for cello and electroacoustic music, was written in 2006-2007 for cellist Craig Hultgren. The title (from Italian meaning “bright/dark”) comes from the technique of drawing that focuses extensively on the use of shading (“values”) to create the illusion of depth. I was particularly interested in creating an intimate piece that would fully capture the resonance of the cello from percussive to pitched sounds. Like a pencil or charcoal drawing, I was intent on creating a palate stemming from one source (the cello) that would be further shaded, highlighted, and exaggerated by the electroacoustic music, which is generated entirely from recorded cello sounds. The formal structure of Chiaroscuro encompasses three large sections with the addition of an introduction and a coda. The introduction, percussive in nature, serves to conjure the sound at the opening of the piece, while the coda is a reflection of the piece as a whole. The middle section consists of a controlled improvisation using thematic elements found throughout the work.
The Veneer of Spring draws material from Claude Le Jeune’s 1603 chanson, Revecy venir du printemps [Here again comes the Spring]. The title plays on the French verb venir and the English veneer (from the German, furnier). It is the first movement of a five-movement work, The Summer Triangle, a portrait of my experiences in the Utah desert.
Immeasurable Distance was composed in memory of my percussion colleague Roger Schupp. Roger asked me to write a piece for him but passed away before the piece could be brought to fruition. My sincere appreciation and thanks to Scott Deal, who agreed to join me to imagine and complete the journey of this piece. While Immeasurable Distance was initially composed as a tribute to Roger, I think it has become a piece about the immeasurable distance that can exist between any of us.