– Uluru –
for organ solo. Bryan Holten performs:
Uluru is named after the large sandstone rock formation of central Australia formerly known as Ayers Rock. Uluru is the name by which it is known to the indigenous Australians or Aborigines and it is their creation myths for the structure that were an early source of inspiration in the composition of this piece. One of the myths is an account of a great battle that saw much death. In response, the earth itself then rose up in grief over the bloodshed, becoming Uluru. Another contrasting creation myth from a different tribe suggests that the rock was built up by two colossal spirit-children who played in the mud after rain. While this work makes no programmatic use of these stories, imagery from them informed my material and approach during the compositional process.
Check out the video of this performance here!
– Undertow –
for wind orchestra. The Eastman Wind Orchestra under Kevin Holzman performs:
Undertow is a work for wind ensemble cast in three continuous movements. As the title suggests, the work is largely inspired by the ocean, though there is no specific narrative. French composer Claude Debussy’s orchestra work La Mer was an early source of inspiration in the composition of Undertow. But where Debussy’s work muses over the beauty and poetry of the sea, this piece is bewitched by the frightening power and capricious character of the ocean. The movement titles (The Shallows, Deep-sea Trench, and Waterspout) are not necessarily part of a program, but are intended to reflect a progression in which one begins at the surface, is sucked down to the depths, and then sent far into the air. Of course it is possible to hear this music much less literally than is suggested by the titles. The piece may even be interpreted metaphorically.
– Sonetos de Amor –
for tenor, ocarina, percussion, and viola. Marquese Carter, the composer, Cy Meissler, and Mark Hatlestad:
Sonetos de Amor features settings of love sonnets by the influential Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The selections come from his collection Cien sonetos de amor and are reflective of his characteristic style. In the dedication to his wife, Matlida, Neruda writes:
“I knew very well that down the right sides of sonnets, with elegant discriminating taste, poets of all time have arranged rhymes that sound like silver, or crystal, or cannonfire. But – with great humility – I made these sonnets out of wood.”
The earthy sounds of wood are indeed present in this poetry, the action of which often takes place in nature. Throughout the music, wooden percussion instruments and sounds are used to accentuate this color in the music. Additionally, the ocarina is used, and has a long history in South American folk music.
– Inklings –
for piano solo. Wei-Han Wu performs:
Inklings is a cycle of six short character pieces for the piano that may be performed independently or as subsets of the larger work. The term “character piece,” in this case, suggests a music that is concerned with portraying a very particular mood, moment, or personality. The word inkling simply means “a slight knowledge or hint” and so the title of this work is meant to suggest the way in which these pieces grew from the smallest of ideas during the compositional process. Additionally, the composer felt that the word inklings evoked images of beings or little creatures composed entirely of ink, as these character pieces are.