Against the Sky, for orchestra (2009/2012)
Duration: 9:30 minutes
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 3 oboes (3rd=english horn), 3 b-flat clarinets (3rd=bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets in C (1st=piccolo trumpet), 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, 3 percussionists, harp, piano, strings
Against the Sky is a dramatic work in three concise sections. The first section begins with a forceful statement of disjunct points of sound, which I imagine to be like fireworks or flashes of lightening seen against a night sky. This disjunct line forms a theme that makes up the material for most of the piece. The second section begins with a lyrical theme played by a solo oboe. This simple chant-like melody moves mostly in melodic steps, forming a clear foil to the instability and large leaps of the opening. This chant is presented two more times, first fragmented in the winds and then in a passionate outburst in the strings. The strings quietly hold the last note of the chant while the third section begins, a slow, inevitable climb to the final, exhilarating return of the opening. In the last bars, the music burns up under the strain of its own energy, and evaporates into nothing.