Above the Horizon
Fireworks premiered by the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James Ross on February 19, 2011 in College Park, MD
About the Piece
I. Cloud Formations
Above the Horizon is a two-movement composition for orchestra of roughly eighteen minutes. The piece explores the dichotomy between active and static music in a variety of ways. In this piece, I try to find various ways of superimposing and juxtaposing these seemingly contrasting ideals. For example, a section of music that is not driven by pulse or harmonic change and is therefore static may be animated by active musical gestures such as tremolandi, trills or repetitions of single pitches. This technique helps to provide a constant sense of energy even within slower, more reflective sections. Another important characteristic involves using timbre changes to transform single pitches and/or larger harmonic units. The first movement, Cloud Formations, considers how the registral placement of pitch affects the resulting sound of similar harmonies, mainly through the opposition of open-spaced harmonies and cluster chords. The piece can be divided into three main formal sections, the first of which slowly unfolds the primary harmonic material, an openly spaced, symmetrical five-pitch chord that expands in a wedge-shaped motion. The second movement, Fireworks, consists of an energetic sound world that is motivated by the initial brass chords. The reiteration of these chords leads to the first of three main formal sections, where an underlying sixteenth note pulse that is irregularly accented provides a background for multiple layers of music.