Program Notes

Celestial Blossoms for chamber orchestra (1998)

In my mind, I was searching for a contemporary pastoral in simple and clarified mode.  In my imagination, the sonorities of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony would coexist with the sustained sound-clusters of Gagaku—Japanese Court music with roots in China’s Tang dynasty period (618-907).  I also was inspired by the sound stage provided by nature in my garden.  Listening attentively, I found the cricket chirping here would be overlaid at random by birdcalls here, with the focus of my ears panning back and forth.

In addition, some elements form a piece that I had just finished, Listen to the Song of the Wind for traditional Chinese instruments; have undoubtedly lingered in the work.  The most obvious is the prevalence of multi-tonal pentatonic scales.  The sound-clusters formed by these notes, which are primary colors of the piece; blend with chords based on the harmonic spectra.

Melodic materials constructed on different instruments provide the backbone for various textures, which undergo sharp changes—just as the vista of garden landscape shifts when one turns a corner.  Certain chords are crucial in punctuation structural points; together with coinciding proportioned pulses, they help to balance out the sections.

One paces through the music andante.  First, sequences of harmonic gestures chase one another, and then more and more lines participate in layers of lyrical gestures.  Approximately two thirds through the piece, the chords become brighter and more sustained, followed by silence.  This starts the point of return, as the initial chords reappear in similar but abbreviated sequences.

The foreground varies against this familiar background setting.  The play of timbres increases, and most instruments join in the sweep of a grand harmony, which emanates into the space.

News and Pressnewspress.htmlnewspress.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0