Though scored and performed as a single movement, Earth Rise is written in three distinct sections. The first section depicts the sunrise, that moment when the sun’s rays crest the horizon, sparkling on the dew-laden grass. I can imagine closing my eyes and feeling its gentle warmth on my face. The second section is moonrise, inspiring passion and dancing in its cool glow, and experiencing the night with a loving community of people. The final section is the Earth Rise, from the view of the Earth as photographed by the astronauts on Apollo 8. I am genuinely awed by that image and the way it changed my perspective. I no longer consider my place in the world, so much as our place in the cosmos.
Ironically, that photo from Apollo 8 was unplanned. NASA had scheduled and planned numerous photos of the moon as they circled it, but when the astronauts saw the earth rising over the moon, they knew they had to capture it. — Diane Jones
Los Ritmos Para Tres (Rhythms for Three)
Los Ritmos Para Tres (Rhythms For Three) was written as a commission for The Elixir Piano Trio. This piece was written using sets of pitches and modulating them throughout the composition. — Edna Alejandra Longoria
Sunt Numai Urechi (I’m All Ears)
Composed in five days, Sunt numai urechi (I’m all ears) is my first completed piece. For years I had been performing a lot of new music for cello that ranged between challenging, innovative, inspirational, and sometimes unidiomatic and uninspired. One summer day in 2015 it crossed my mind that rather than occasionally criticize other composers’ music I should just write a piece.
Sunt numai urechi (I’m all ears) aims to connect with an audience of any background. The artistic seed came from watching a video clip of a flamenco guitar player whose virtuosic technique blew my mind. In an instant, I picked up the cello and tried to emulate the musical gestures present in the flamenco piece. And for the first time, I sat down and wrote the musical ideas flowing out of my heart, through my fingers, onto the sound of the cello. The flamenco-inspired gestures became the second section of the piece, featuring mixed meters, dizzying passages, and percussive sounds, making this section exciting to play.
The work starts with a busy introduction built on a sinuous gesture along an open-string drone. In the middle, the piece relaxes into a lyrical, ethnically eclectic section that includes a quote from a traditional Romanian drinking song: “Bun îi Vinul Ghiurghiuliu” (Good is the Rosé Wine) made famous by mid-20th century Romanian singer Maria Tănase. The concluding part - using mixed meters — climbs into the stratosphere of the cello register and ends with technical pyrotechnics. — Ovidiu Marinescu
Discovering a place as vast and richly diverse as Glacier National Park can be a lifelong endeavor. Each visit brings new vistas, or a variation on previous experiences; layers become evident by the time of day, the change of the seasons — the light, the sounds, the colors — wet or dry. So in preparation for this piece, I deliberately chose my solo hikes both in spring and in fall, to broaden my experiences. Broken into three movements, the piece concentrates on the physical elements that tie it together – the mountains, sky and water, and the color blue.
The mountains appear blue on the horizon; the blue sky morphs during the day and night; glacial ice appears blue because the dense compacted ice of the glacier absorbs all colors except blue. The disparate elements are unified in an amazing landscape. — Christina Rusnak
I began this work in the Summer of 2010 while living in Pittsburgh PA. I completed it in London, UK later that year — Europe was to be my new home from that point through the next three years. I was still quite young then and had never crossed the ocean before. I cannot say that this incredible change in my life had any conscious impact on the piece I was composing, but in the years that followed I realized that, at least subconsciously, it must have.
Darkbloom is a work built upon juxtapositions. From the fleeting lines in the cello’s highest register to the brooding depths below, a tumultuous journey unfolds. At times, the elements of the work seem to align, if only briefly, before being pulled back into the storm. It rages on and on, with only gasps of calm breath coming in from time to time. Perhaps there is some solace found in the final phrases, perhaps the gentle ending is only a prelude to the next inevitable storm. — Chad Robinson
Palette No. 2
Like Palette No.1, Palette No.2 was derived from a piano improvisation and also arranged for piano trio. It was a piano piece that grew in short passages that were added on different days. This made the piece somewhat sectional and non-traditional in its form. There are cross-rhythms and rhumba passages especially near the end. A basic theme returns in different guises. Although the form is not classical, the style is somewhat light/classical, and therefore easy on the ear. — Clive Muncaster
This short piece tells the story of two celestial sweethearts who meet on the earth plane as star-crossed lovers. The theme is a simple but poignant melody that symbolizes their heavenly love song. The violin expresses the female voice, whilst the cello speaks for the male. The piano serves as the narrator of this tale. The piece opens with a piano ostinato played in a high register that represents the lovers’ eternal home in the etheric realms. The piano sets the scene for their earthly meeting by stating the theme in the bass line, bringing the action down from celestial heights to earthly reality. We hear the female (violin) singing the song alone, with the male (cello) echoing it. When the two finally meet in the physical world and each recognizes the other as their anam cara, there is a shared moment of joy before the harsh reality of their situation dawns on them. Knowing that they cannot be together in this lifetime, they sing their love song together in unison, punctuated by accented notes. They then return to their respective lives, letting no one else know of their secret encounter and its deep meaning to them both. The piece ends with an ardent plea to Venus, Goddess of Love, to have mercy on them. Passion underscores this variation on the theme in which their hope of being reunited one day is tinged with angst that it may not happen. The piece ends with a reprise of the piano ostinato as Venus considers her decision in the heavenly realms. — Joanna Estelle
The French title Grisailles Vaporeuses translates to "Misty Grayness." I wrote this trio – violin, cello, and piano – in 2006, shortly after moving to Westerly RI. It was the first of my works that was inspired by natural surrounds and special places that I cross every day on my way to work.
The work is in three movements: 1 Pensive, 2 Lyrical, and 3 Joyful. The title evokes the mini wriggling “fogglings” above ponds and rivers in New England, in the early mornings of fall. I would see these patches of mist when I crossed the Potter Hill Bridge almost every autumn day; these misty figures looked like dancing ghosts or spirits and made me reflect on the wonders of natural phenomena, thus the title of the first movement, Pensive. The second movement, Lyrical, is supposed to evoke the beauty of autumn changing colors and landscape, the trees turning red, yellow, orange, and brown, then the wind blowing the leaves away. The second movement also incorporates changing moods: from a slow dance in three with wide leaps, to express awe, followed by a leggiero passage of pizzicato ‘alla chitarra’ (like a guitar) to capture the feeling of a light wind filled with swirling leaves, and ending with a return to the calmer, slower lyrical dance. The Joyful third movement is a fast, fun interplay between the instruments, reminiscent of a game of hide-and-seek between autumn and winter, and the piece ends with a furious arpeggio passage, a warning from the nor’easter.
Each movement represents a different mood, but also makes use of different techniques, such as tremolando, arpeggios in pizzicato, and glissandi. The compositional emphasis is on the motives, the octatonic and pentatonic scales, and a rich texture relying on canonic imitations.
By contrast the third movement is based on accented rhythmic figures and angular motivic shapes, interrupted by lush piano passages throughout the movement. — Eliane Aberdam
Also from the moto series
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