Icarus, Towards the Flame (2010)

solo piano

4:00

Icarus, Towards the Flame is inspired by the Greek myth about a boy who plunges to his death after flying too close to the sun, while his father, Daedalus, looks on. The work begins in the mind of Daedalus. Descending scales represent his thoughts as he reflects on the past, while a slow, building arpeggio creeps up from the lower register of the piano. This arpeggio, accompanied by pulsating chords representing the sun, represents Icarus in flight. As it builds to a climax, Daedalus begins to relive the tragic event. The arpeggios first soar over the pulsating chords, then plunge back to the lower register of the piano as Icarus tries again to reach for the sun. As he comes closer again, the arpeggios continuously grow larger and the pulsating chords are transformed into fiery tremolos. The work builds up to the moment Icarus comes closest to the sun, glimpsing its beauty, before plunging to his death.

Premiere

Ming-Hsiu Yen, piano

Tsang Shiu Tim Art Hall, HKUST

Oct 1, 2011


Homage a Kazuo Ohno (2010)

solo piano

5:00

Homage a Kazuo Ohno (for solo piano), written in memory of the pioneering Butoh dancer and choreographer, evokes three hallmark elements of the musical accompaniment in his most recognized works: traditional Japanese music, evoked by a plucked and struck melody heard three times throughout the piece; sounds of nature, evoked by running the fingers along strings inside the piano and by clusters struck on the keyboard; and western classical music, represented by chords struck on the upper part of the keyboard which develop into a repeating chordal figure evoking chiming church bells.

The work was commissioned by danz.fest to accompany a dance piece by Tadashi Endo in commemoration of Kazuo Ohno's passing.

Premiere

Matthew Tommasini, solo piano

danz.fest 2010

Cattolica

ITALY

July 24, 2010


A Closer Walk (2007)

1. First Line

2. Second Line

(movements performed without pause)

8:00

A Closer Walk is a reflection on the city of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. The work uses the hymn "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" as its foundation. Specifically, the line "Guide me gently, safely o'er To Thy kingdom shore" is represented by the opening ascending blues scale motive, which is heard throughout the work. From this scale, scenes of New Orleans celebrations emerge, symbolized by "First Line" and "Second Line" music styles. The first movement's scene is a jazz funeral based on variations of the hymn tune. The second movement evokes scenes of Mardi Gras. This movement's effect is one of disorientation as snippets of various musical styles, from the striding basslines of Professor Longhair, to a zydeco waltz, to a Mardi Gras Indian call and response, collide. This collision gives way to a distant repeat of the hymn tune, which is answered by an even faster coda building to an unresolved climax.

Premiere

Martha Walvoord, violin

French Parlor, Founders Hall

University of San Diego

San Diego, CA

April 24, 2008