Instrumentation: 3333 / 4331 / timp., 3 perc. / harp / pno / strings
Duration: 10 minutes
World Premiere: Commissioned and premiered by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, Larry Rachleff, conductor, on May 9, 2015, Providence, RI.
Strata was commissioned for the 70th anniversary of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and for my good friend and colleague Larry Rachleff. With any organization, after 70 years, there are rich layers of history. I immediately thought of the year of the orchestra’s founding at the end of the second world war (1945). Knowing that this concert’s theme would be “ancient music”, and having spent a year at the American Academy in Rome back in 2000, I also thought of the layers of history represented literally at the church of San Clemente in Rome where the top floor dates to the 11th century, the floor underneath, the 4th century, and the floor beneath that, the 1st century. The title, Strata, refers to the various layers of the piece, fragments of Gregorian chant (played by 2 solo violins in canon), a solo piccolo theme, a high string cluster, and other elements. The piece alternates between sections of slow, quiet introspection and fast, energetic, and propulsive music. It all culminates in a simultaneous layering of several ideas using the whole orchestra towards the end of the piece.
-- Pierre Jalbert