Autumn Voices

instrumentation :  nine players (bass fl + eb cl + 2 perc + pno + 2 vn + va + vc)

2010
duration :  12’30”
commissioned by the Callithumpian Consort
premiere :  06.19.10 by the Callithumpian Consort; Jeffrey Means, conductor | Boston


        Over the past few years I have written several pieces which use the metaphor of a natural environment as an organizing theme. In these pieces the interaction of musical materials is symbolic of the relationship between inhabitants of an ecosystem. In this way, the focus of these pieces is on the residents of the environment. These pieces all have a moralizing aspect, as I have incorporated metaphors of humans’ relationships to the world around us. Autumn Voices takes a different approach to examining our relationship with nature. Instead of creating metaphors, this piece tries to capture expressively the feeling of a location at a specific point in time. The issue of relationships with nature is still present, but now it is my personal, subjective sense for the world around me.
        Autumn Voices still contains musical materials whose interaction pushes the piece forward in time. There are two primary motives—one ambling melody painted with the different colors of the ensemble; the other is a quick scalar figure which always appears in specific pairs of instruments. Throughout the piece certain timbral combinations create points of reference, as the music returns to them often. Bass flute is often paired with either snare drum or marimba, clarinet and vibraphone form a duo, as do violin 1 and the piano’s right hand, etc.