big sky (2005) for orchestra
Instrumentation: 3233 / 4331 / timp, 3 perc / pno / strings
Duration: 11 minutes
World Premiere: Commissioned and premiered by the Houston Symphony on Jan. 13, 14, and 15, 2006, Houston, TX. Also performed by the Houston Symphony on Jan. 24, 2006, at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.
Somehow, the sky always seems bigger, more vast, more infinite, in the western United States. This idea became the inspiration for this work; not to paint a picture with music, but to capture the psychological state of being in such an environment. The music contains two different ways of presenting this ‘grandness.’ The first, contained in the fast music, uses the orchestra as a whole, presenting large tutti gestures dominated by the brass and percussion. The second, contained in the slow, lyrical music, presents more solo instrumental passages as lone voices in a vast infiniteness. After a slow introduction, the form contains a fast-slow-fast structure and though there are many shifts in tempo and mood, this 11-minute work is in one movement.
Having heard the Houston Symphony over many years and knowing many of the players, I also attempted to give each section (and soloists) their moments to shine with some challenging music – in a way, customizing the piece for the wonderful musicians of the orchestra.