"Songs of Arion" for symphony orchestra (2010)
Master of Music
This work for symphony orchestra is written in memory of the composer Gustav Mahler (1860--1911), in honor of both the 150 th anniversary of his birth and the approaching 100th anniversary of his death. As such, it traces his creative development---in an extremely condensed fashion---through veiled references to his first through his last symphonic utterance. My piece takes the form of a loose palindrome: two larger, gradually intensifying sections flank a shorter middle section that represents an immense orchestral swell. The principal dramatic impetus comes from the conflict between the obsessive recurrence of a single pitch and the music's repeated attempts to achieve freedom from it; a conflict of linearity vs. circularity, propulsion vs. stasis. Ultimately the work takes the shape of a kaleidoscope, with textures and patterns in constant flux around a single, unchanging pitch at its center. The piece utilizes a standard orchestral instrumentation: 3 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano/celeste, and strings.