Stellar Nebulae was composed in 2018 for Bridges, a string orchestra in Bainbridge Island WA; and the music is dedicated to Patricia Strange, founder, director, and concertmistress of the ensemble. The titles (overall and individual movements) emerged after the music was well underway, so there is no direct programmatic or poetic association intended on that level. The main title reflects my long-standing interest in astronomy, as well as in all scientific fields of exploration. Movement titles refer to the general sense of what the music is doing (or where it is going) during each of those structures. “Emergence” explores active sweeping textural gestures in a pseudo perpetual motion context with tiny bits of melody almost emerging from the primordial swirl. “Contemplation” is inward-looking, overall subdued with muted strings throughout, but still quite active in its own way (including several fugal sections). The music is directed towards my mother, specifically her life example and my memories of her. “Expansion” combines aspects of the first two movements, explored in new contexts as summarizing and concluding structures, with several endings that don’t end and fresh starts that expand in other directions.
The recording of and post-production for Stellar Nebulae was underwritten in part with a Dean’s Professional Development Grant from the College of Humanities and the Arts, San Jose State University, San Jose CA, 2019. — Brian Belet
Rumi’s words anchor Secret Sky:
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
Secret Sky is inspired by the island community of Beaver Island, Michigan. Robert Nordling and the Beaver Island Cultural Arts Center commissioned me to compose this piece as a part of the 2017 Baroque on Beaver Festival where it received its premier.
Beaver Island is an extremely ecologically diverse area. As a consequence, there are a plethora of bird species inhabiting the island. In tracking the bird patterns around the island, moving from the north end to the east side, around to the west side and back up the central, I discovered several sonic patterns (based on the bird calls themselves as well as their migration paths).
The North end begins with a lighthouse, a beacon of sorts. Then, migratory songbirds prevail with a brief encounter with a swan. Sparrows and flutters dominate the east side of the island with marshy foul and woodpeckers leading us around to the west side. Also, on the west side, we are introduced to the other lighthouse on the island, after which we move through a graveyard and then reach the highest bluff on the island. Finally, circling around to the central area, we experience the greatest habitat diversity with bluebirds and osprey, indulgent in their wavering squeals. An undercurrent of the piece is the subtle roll of a wave on the shoreline, moving interchangeably through the parts.
Secret Sky is dedicated to my uncle and godfather, James Gibson, 1949-2017. Secret Sky was the result of work started at the MacDowell Colony during my residency in 2016.
— Mara Gibson
Shadows of the Wind
The inspiration for this work came to me one night while listening to the sounds of a windstorm. As the wind increased and diminished in cycles, the room was filled with changing patterns of shadows cast on the walls by the movements of branches and leaves – reminding me of memories that flicker on the surface of our subconscious.
– Rain Worthington
This symphonic poem is dedicated to my beloved Laura, based on reminiscences of her life. The music describes from the very beginning her experiences and invites the listener to imagine them in the same way as a book is read.
La petit Princesse
We can see her climbing the trees, riding up the hills and suddenly going down in a rush, as well as sorting useless meetings at work. Her adorable hyperactivity is resembled here.
La mer et les étoiles
She loves the sea and the stars. With a Celtic-like melody introduction, this movement shows her character meeting the force of the waves in the sea and turning up to the sky with magic chords. At the end she is flying through the stars forever.
Passion is the word that outlines this movement. A cello solo represents Romeo, who sings to her with passion and shows that their love will endure regardless of the circumstances.
— Angel Sánchez
COURAGE for Winds
Commissioned by the Inland Empire Youth Wind Symphony Commissioning Consortium.
The commissioning consortium includes:
Dr. Jeffrey Boeckman, Inland Empire Youth Wind Symphony / CSU-San Bernardino
Dr. Luis Gonzalez, Colton High School, Colton CA
Mr. Charles Gray, Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Riverside CA
Mr. Brian Gallagher, Norco High School, Norco CA
Mr. Adam Kehl, John W. North High School, Riverside CA
Mr. Kevin Morton, San Gorgonio High School, San Bernardino CA
Mr. Michael Gaylord, Valley View High School, Moreno Valley CA
Originally written for orchestra, Courage for Winds is a bold, powerful work, rhythmic and melodic with an underlying snare drum military-like heartbeat. The opening melody from the brass is taken over by the woodwinds and then the saxophones. The work is inspiring and heartfelt. Brass and piccolo players love this piece. Courage for Winds is an outgrowth of my battle with Breast Cancer, and speaks to the strength in all of us to overcome adversity in our lives. Jeff Boeckman and the Inland Empire Youth Wind Symphony premiered the work. Subsequently, Courage for Winds has been performed by numerous groups including The Long Beach Municipal Band, Larry Curtis, conducting, The West Point Military Band, Lt. Maj Tod Addison, Conductor, and Los Angeles Symphonic Winds, Stephen Piazza, conductor. This work is particularly suitable for patriotic programming and as an opener for most concerts.
Selected as one of the winning pieces of the Siberian Symphony’s Composition competition 2017, Mithridates portrays the disorder and turmoil which characterized the reign of Mithridates VI of Pontus. Mithridates acted as the final ruler on the Kingdom of Pontus, perishing with his kingdom after three large scale wars with the Roman Empire whose main mission at the time was absorbing smaller kingdoms. Within Mithridates the listener may find a sonic portrayal of the vastly deep and intuitive expressions of human emotion within the perpetually chaotic process(es) known as civilization. Bound by infinite possibilities of natural and man-made disasters, the rise and fall of our civilizations and their obsessions over beauty and force seem to be more of a phenomenon which each passing day. This rise and fall acts as the arch in which Mithridates is portrayed.
— John Franek
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