"Falling Up" (2008) - For Wind Ensemble

$ 60.00

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In Three Movements (also available separately):       I. Falling Up   -  II. Evening Glow   -   III. Red

Instrumentation:

For Wind Ensemble

Commissioned by the Atlantic Coast Conference Band Directors Association:

Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, University of Miami, University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Wake Forest University.

Duration:

15 minutes

Program Note:

“Autumn Triptych” was commissioned by the twelve member schools of the Atlantic Coast Conference Band Directors Association. It is inspired by three paintings, each related to autumn: Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm” (1950), John Atkinson Grimshaw’s “Evening Glow” (c.1884), and Georgia O’Keeffe’s “The Red Maple at Lake George” (1926). My piece does not seek to represent the paintings, but instead uses the paintings as a springboard for inspiration and musical form. It is my sincere hope that viewing the paintings will lend deeper insight into the meaning of the music and the music in some way may allow the viewer to see the art from a new perspective.

The three movements may either be performed individually or as a set (and may also be grouped in pairs).

I. “Falling Up” is inspired by Jackson Pollock’s painting “Autumn Rhythm” (1950) (found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and shares its title with Shel Silverstein’s book of poetry of the same name.

Pollock’s painting, in his distinctive style, consists of a tangled sea of swirls of paint. After studying the painting, I began to notice how the tangle of swirls merge into a few larger circular rings embedded in the painting. In my musical work, I take these embedded rings of paint as an organizing principle. The overall form of “Falling Up” consists of a series of rotations of the original thematic material, where the order, orchestration and character of the material vary in each rotation.

My work is also inspired by the experience of watching a gust of wind blow the leaves off a tree, sending them twirling up into the air, and carrying them off into the distance.  The upwards gesture of the leaves “falling up” off the tree combines with Pollock’s tangled sea of swirls to create a flurry of intertwining upwards motion, ultimately propelling the autumn leaves off into the sky, where they sail away until they are out of sight. 

II. “Evening Glow” is inspired by a painting of the same name by nineteenth-century British painter John Atkinson Grimshaw. I was immediately captivated by the peaceful, yet sorrowfully longing quality of the painting when I saw it during a visit to the Yale Center for British Art (where it resides in the Paul Mellon Collection). The painting shows a woman standing alone, looking down a winding road during the dusk of a fall evening. As the road recedes into the distance, the entire painting fades away into the golden glow of the autumn sunset.

I saw the road as a metaphor for time and for age. My piece puts two motifs in conflict with each other: the motif of the persistence of time with that of life. The two are in constant struggle over the course of the piece, until a chorale melody breaks through at the end, suspending the moment of Grimshaw’s autumn sunset, if only briefly, before allowing time to take over once again.

III. “Red” is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting “The Red Maple at Lake George” (1926). My work is inspired by O’Keeffe’s intensely vibrant and fiery depiction of a red maple leaf. The music references different associations with the color red, from the fiery and sassy to the robust and vibrantly radiant.

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