Symphony to capture morning magic in 'Chasing Light'


POSTED: Monday, October 06, 2008

This weekend, the Honolulu Symphony will be the third orchestra to perform my new work, “;Chasing Light ...”; The world premiere was just last week with the superb Reno Chamber Orchestra in Nevada.





Honolulu Symphony

        » In concert: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday


» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall


» Tickets: $19 to $70 at Ticketmaster outlets, (877) 750-4400; or ticketmaster.com


» Call: 792-2000



Over the next two years, more than 58 orchestras in 50 states will perform the work, which was commissioned by the Ford Motor Co.'s Made in America program, the largest commissioning consortium in the United States.

I live in rural New Hampshire, and one of the special pleasures here is experiencing the often brilliant sunrises, reminding one of Thoreau's words, “;Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.”;

“;Chasing Light ...”; draws its spirit, energy and inspiration from the celebration of vibrant colors and light that penetrate the morning mist as it wafts through the trees in the high New England hills.

About 18 minutes in duration, the music is cast in four distinct movements and proceeds one to the next without pause. As one who has always been attracted to the orchestra's extraordinarily vivid coloristic possibilities, “;Chasing Light ...”; provided me an opportunity to explore its many timbral riches with a broad tapestry of music that is both exuberant and heroic, as well as intimate and expressive.

  Each movement contains a subtitle.

Movement I: “;Sunrise Ignites Daybreak's Veil”; opens with a forceful introduction containing three diverse musical ideas presented by the full orchestra: A low rhythmic and percussive orchestral pedal is followed by a three-note motif in the brass overlaid with a rapid swirling cascade of archlike upper woodwind phrases. These primary elements are the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic building blocks that develop throughout the work.

Movement II: “;Calliope's Rainbowed Song”; is cast in a major archlike form and begins softly, with solo clarinet, followed by a repeated piano sonority that forms the structure of a theme played by solo flute. This theme builds to a forceful midpoint, followed by sections that appear in reverse order. The movement ends gently with solo clarinet and ethereal violins.

Movement III: “;A Kaleidoscope Blooms”; is a slow, elegiac movement for oboe, opening with a low, dark and haunting repeated pedal in the piano, contrabass and tam-tam. Sudden rapid woodwind gestures contrast and frame gradually ascending oboe phrases that accumulate ever-greater urgency as the music approaches maximum intensity toward the movement's end.

Movement IV: “;Morning's Embrace Confronts the Dawn”; gently proceeds with a series of delicate and shimmering string textures, derived from the cascade of woodwind phrases of the first movement. These earlier elements prepare for a stately but urgent choralelike theme that builds to an explosive conclusion.

It has been an exhilarating challenge to compose music that will be engaged by so many orchestral ensembles. This weekend, please make time to join your symphony to be part of “;Chasing Light ...”;