Imagine that five people walk into a room and sit around a circular table expectantly. One by one they begin to speak, not with their voices, but with the instruments each person has brought with them. First the clarinet is heard, then the flute followed by the horn, then the oboe and finally the bassoon. They each vie for attention, seemingly attempting to agree on how they are to proceed. Finally they decide that each performer will tell a story with the others commenting or embellishing or even taking over the story. This is the dream that I had which inspired Short Stories.
Commissioned by The Aspen Wind Quintet and funded by Chamber Music America with funds from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Short Stories was written in 1994 and subsequently premiered that summer by The Aspen Wind Quintet at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.
The work is comprised of six movements with movements four, five and six played attacca. Each movement has an evocative title which hints at the story being told or at the storytellers themselves. Wildly divergent, Short Stories moves from mysterious to boisterous, from playful to painful, and climaxes with a vibrant, joyous dance.
Undercurrents Redux began its life as a solo unaccompanied flute piece titled Undercurrents written during the spring of 2007 for Amy Porter, a longtime friend and inspirational musician. It grew into Undercurrents Redux when the Palisades Virtuosi commissioned it in 2010. The inspiration for the work comes from my remembrances of long childhood summers playing in the streams near Camden, South Carolina where I was fascinated with all of the life that happened above and below the waterline. From skeeter bugs to crayfish to minnows and tadpoles, the water, that I seemed to live in at the time, was an entire world unto itself. The work is a single movement with variations based on the original theme. It moves from an opening lyrical and nostalgic mood to a gradually more active and playful texture to a sense of danger, alternating a multitude of tempi and techniques. It all comes to an end with a series of strong flourishes.
Undercurrents was written during the spring of 2007 for Amy Porter, a longtime friend and inspirational musician. It is unaccompanied because I felt that this format would give Amy the greatest freedom of expression. The flute, as all of you know, has boundless technical possibilities resulting in a multitude of timbres, articulations, tempi and power. Also, it is one of those instruments that does not fatigue the ear. As a result, composers cherish the flute. Undercurrents is in a single movement with several sections that flow into one another and themes that reappear in different guises. It is a stream of consciousness with a purpose.