Orchestral and Wind Ensemble
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Suite from "The Wedding" (2013)
symphony orchestra, 10'


Symphony in C, cond. Stilian Kirov

score sample

Instrumentation:
(2, 2, 2, 2) (4, 2, 3, 1) (timp + 2 perc, celesta, harp) (strings)

Premiered March 10, 2016 by Symphony in C, conducted by Stilian Kirov, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA

The music for this work was drawn from The Wedding, an operatic scene composed for a November 2010 production by International Opera Theater of Philadelphia.  The libretto was adapted from Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron" story of Nastagio degli Onesti, whose unrequited love for Paulina Traversari finds fulfillment only after he quite literally scares her into marrying him.

In the stage version, in order to show Paulina the consequences of refusing a potential suitor, Nastagio forces her to witness a horrifying scene:

A beautiful naked woman is being chased through the forest by a knight and his hunting dogs.  The woman stops to explain the situation in an aria – long ago, the woman's rejection of the knight's love led to his suicide, and though both have long since been dead, they are now condemned to eternally reenact the terrible scene of the knight's vengeance.  After telling his own version of the story, the knight then murders the woman, and within moments, she jumps to her feet again and continues her desperate flight.

This concert suite combines these arias for tenor and soprano with a brief orchestral interlude linking the two.  In the present instrumental-only version, all important vocal lines have been incorporated into the orchestral fabric (a version with solo voices also exists).  Although the naked woman and the knight tell us almost the same story, their perspectives and emotional states are totally different, and it was a wonderful challenge to write both the soprano's desperate plea for mercy and the tenor's passionate love song.





The Seahorse and the Crab (2012)
chamber orchestra, narrator, 10'

score sample

Instrumentation:
(1, 0, 1, 1) (0, 1, 0, 0) (1 perc, piano) (strings)
A version for chamber ensemble and narrator also exists - see "Solo and Chamber"

Commissioned by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Premiered November 4, 2012 by Project Trio, narrators, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong, Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee, WI

Using the trumpet and the cello to represent the story's two main characters, this underwater adaptation of a well-known fable stresses the importance of believing in yourself and reminds us to never give up.  As Aesop said, "Slow and steady wins the race."

The original chamber version of the work was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association for its educational outreach series, Sound All Around.





Suite from "The Wedding" (2011)
soprano solo, tenor solo, symphony orchestra, 10'

Tenor aria


Interlude


Soprano aria

Elizabeth Zharoff, soprano
Diego Silva, tenor
Curtis Symphony Orchestra, cond. Vinay Parameswaran

score sample

Instrumentation:
(2, 2, 2, 2) (4, 2, 3, 1) (timp + 2 perc, celesta, harp) (strings) (solo soprano, solo tenor)

Premiered April 25, 2011 by Elizabeth Zharoff, soprano, Diego Silva, tenor, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vinay Parameswaran, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA

The music for this work was drawn from The Wedding, an operatic scene composed for a November 2010 production by International Opera Theater of Philadelphia.  The libretto was adapted from Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron" story of Nastagio degli Onesti, whose unrequited love for Paulina Traversari finds fulfillment only after he quite literally scares her into marrying him.

In the stage version, in order to show Paulina the consequences of refusing a potential suitor, Nastagio forces her to witness a horrifying scene:

A beautiful naked woman is being chased through the forest by a knight and his hunting dogs.  The woman stops to explain the situation in an aria – long ago, the woman's rejection of the knight's love led to his suicide, and though both have long since been dead, they are now condemned to eternally reenact the terrible scene of the knight's vengeance.  After telling his own version of the story, the knight then murders the woman, and within moments, she jumps to her feet again and continues her desperate flight.

The present orchestral suite combines these arias for tenor and soprano with a brief orchestral interlude that links the two.  Although the naked woman and the knight tell us almost the same story, their perspectives and emotional states are totally different, and it was a wonderful challenge to write both the soprano's desperate plea for mercy and the tenor's passionate love song.

Tenor:

Nastagio degli Onesti
eri ancor giovinetto
quando io, Guido degli Anastagi,
amai questa fanciulla con ogni fibra del mio essere.

Ella, sì piena di crudeltà
portommi a sì gran dispero
che un dì trapassai con codesto spadino
il mio cor dilaniato.

Ella non si pentì della gioia
originata dal mio martirio,
e fu maledetta, per la sua ferocia,
agli eterni dolori dell'inferno.

Ed io, che sì l'ebbi amata,
fui dannato ad inseguirla,
non come mia amata
ma come mio mortal nemico.

Il mio rapimento in rabbia mutò,
la mia devozione in vendetta.
Gli occhi di lacrime rigonfi,
l'anima lacerata dal mio petto.
Ed il suo cuore marmoreo
fu divorato da barbare bestie.

Lasciami, te ne prego
piamente adempiere al volere divino.
Abbì mercè.


Soprano:

Strazio infinito,
incubo senza risveglio...
Tregua!

Dannata,
sono dannata
per essermi presa gioco
dell'amore di un uomo
ed essere morta impenitente.

Dannata,
dovrò fuggire per l'eternità
da colui che ho respinto.
Mi bracca con i suoi mastini
come fossi una fiera,
e quando i cani mi hanno ghermita
mi trafigge con uno stocco,
lo stocco con il quale si è ucciso per me.

Dannata! dannata!
Mi squarcia la schiena e ne estrae
il cuore duro e freddo
che non volli mai schiudere
all'amore né alla pietà.
Dannata! dannata!
E dopo il cuore
mi cava il resto delle viscere
per darle in pasto ai suoi cani.

Ma non potendo morire,
perché sono già morta,
subito mi rialzo, e l'inseguimento riprende,
e sento ancora una volta sulla pelle
gli aghi di pino e le spine degli arbusti,
sento il caldo delle fauci dei mastini
ed il freddo della lama.
Pietà, pietà,
pietà di un'anima dannata!


Tommaso Sabbatini
.

Nastagio degli Onesti
you were still a little lad
when I, Guido degli Anastagi
loved this damsel with every fiber of my being.

She, so filled with cruelty,
brought my life to such despair
that one day I plunged this rapier
deep into my broken heart.

She repented not of the joy
she had in my suffering,
and was condemned, for her savagery,
to the pains of eternal hell.

And I, who so loved her
was doomed to hunt her,
not as my beloved lady,
but as my mortal enemy.

My rapture turned to rage
my devotion to revenge.
My eyes filled with tears,
my soul ripped apart
Her callous heart
was devoured by wild dogs.

Leave me, I beg you,
to piously execute the decree of divine justice,
Have mercy.




Endless torment,
nightmare without waking...
Truce!

Damned,
I am damned
for I mocked
the love of a man
and I died without repentance.

Damned,
I will run for eternity
from him whom I rejected.
He hunts me with his dogs
as if I were an animal,
and when the dogs have reached me
he pierces me with a sword,
the same sword he killed himself with for me.

Damned! Damned!
He rips my back open and extracts
the cold and hard heart
that I never wanted to open
to love or mercy.
Damned! Damned!
And after the heart
he extracts the remaining viscera
to feed to his dogs.

But since I cannot die,
because I am already dead,
I instantly get up, and the hunting begins again,
and I feel again on my skin
the pine needles and the thorns of bushes,
I feel the warmth of the dogs' mouths
and the cold of the blade.
Mercy, mercy,
mercy for a damned soul.


Karen Saillant



Scène et Pas de deux (2010)
symphony orchestra, 8’30”


Curtis Symphony Orchestra, cond. Lio Kuokman

score sample

Instrumentation:
(2, 2, 2, 2) (4, 2, 3, 0) (timp + 3 perc, harp) (strings)

Premiered April 12, 2010 by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lio Kuokman, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA

In an earlier orchestral work of mine, Prelude to a Forgotten Opera, I tried to evoke a sense of theatrical atmosphere and operatic drama within the context of a purely instrumental work.  The present piece was conceived in a similar way, but this time, I attempted to write something that would reflect upon the world of dance.

In ballet culture – which makes great use of French terminology – scène is a general designation for any situation in which some kind of narrative is unfolding, whether it be a nighttime journey, a ferocious battle, or simply the arrival of guests at a dinner party.  In contrast, the pas de deux is more specific: a part of the ballet choreographed for only two dancers – usually the male and female principals – and which often forms a discrete musical structure by following a standard formal pattern.  Although my pas de deux is freely written and emerges directly from the preceding music, its passionate lyrical character still sets it sharply apart from the highly rhythmic music that makes up the rest of the work.





Puck (2008)
trumpet solo, string orchestra, 11’30”


Rosie Turner, trumpet
Curtis Chamber Orchestra, cond. Vinay Parameswaran

score sample

Instrumentation:
(strings: minimum 4, 3, 3, 3, 2) (solo trumpet)
Piano reduction also available - see "Solo and Chamber"

Commissioned in memory of Derek Abraham by private consortium, Los Altos, California
Premiered Dec. 13, 2008 by Rick Leder, trumpet, and the Los Altos High School Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Ted Ferrucci, Los Altos High School, Los Altos, CA

This work was created in response to the tragic death of Derek Abraham, a 2007 graduate of Los Altos High School.

It was clear from the beginning that I had to write something that would reflect and celebrate Derek’s energy and enthusiasm for life – there was enough bleakness already – but it was at first difficult for me to find a way “into” the piece.  As someone coming from outside of the Los Altos community, somebody who had never had the chance to know Derek, how could I attempt to truly understand and express in music something as personal and unique as a human being?

One day, I happened upon a copy of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in my local library, a work I hadn’t read for many years.  I’m not sure why the play struck me as being potentially appropriate, but I checked it out and read through it again.  Almost immediately, the character Puck (who had always been my favorite) sparked something in my imagination, and I realized that I’d found my answer.

Of course, Puck’s a brilliant trickster, the master of mischief himself – which certainly rang true with almost everything I’d been told about Derek – but he also has a heart and a real sense of sympathy, even for those that he’s toying with.  Beyond that, something else appealed to me: Puck acts as the primary link between the fairies and the mortals of Shakespeare’s play, operating in both their respective worlds but not really belonging to either one.  He is thus not inhibited by the social restraints which limit the behavior of both groups, and this freedom gives him an unusual perspective, a remarkable sense of insight.  Puck even manages to step outside of the framework of the play itself several times, addressing the audience directly to share his wisdom.

During one of my visits to Los Altos, somebody told me that Derek never seemed caught up in the rules and patterns of our daily existence, that he too could move simply and easily past certain boundaries of our world, including those limits that other people were unable to transcend themselves.  Besides the numerous stories of his pranks, it was this boundless impression of freedom and the sense of a joyful, compassionate spirit that connected my understanding of Derek with the character Puck.





Gaeng (2006)
chamber orchestra, 10’30”


American Composers Orchestra, cond. Jeffrey Milarsky

score sample

Instrumentation:
(fl + picc, ob + eh, clar, bsn) (hn, tpt) (1-2 perc, piano) (strings)

Earlier version for wind ensemble awarded William Schuman Prize, BMI Foundation, 2004

Premiered April 14, 2007 by the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA

The gaeng or qeej is a traditional wind instrument of the Hmong people of Laos.  Skilled performers can distinctly replicate the vowel sounds and the seven tones of the Hmong spoken language through their instruments, thereby creating an extraordinary stylized language, one intelligible only to those with similar training or to the inhabitants of the spirit world.  Because of this ability to communicate with the deceased, the voice of the gaeng pervades the traditional Hmong funeral ceremony.  To guide the departing soul to its final resting place, the gaeng player must call upon his knowledge of a vast repertoire of ritual songs whose performance may continue for days on end.  Gradually, he begins to combine his songs with movement, creating an acrobatic, spinning dance designed to confuse any evil spirits seeking to interfere with the ceremony, even as his continuous playing ensures the soul’s safe passage to the world of the ancestors.






Prelude to a Forgotten Opera (2004)
symphony orchestra, 8’30”


Symphony in C, cond. Rossen Milanov

score sample

Instrumentation:
(2, 2, 2, 2) (4, 2, 3, 0) (timp + 3 perc, harp) (strings)

Haddonfield Symphony Orchestra Young Composers’ Competition, 2005-06 winner

Premiered February 1, 2005 by the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Lees, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI

Dimmed lights; an expectant hush; and then the deep, evocative sound of the orchestra rises into the air.  The music builds, collapses, sings, and finally bursts into dazzling light, a beautiful shimmer that slowly settles back into silence.  The curtain opens upon a dark, expansive stage, a space soon to be filled with the glorious arias and spectacular deeds of an opera.

But with time, the sounds and spectacle fade into memory; with time, memory fades into oblivion.  Today, the opera has long since been lost and forgotten, and with it, the dramatic context of the original work.  The setting, the characters and the action can now exist only within the imagination of a listener, someone guided by the shifting moods and colors of the only surviving music from the opera: the Prelude to Act I.





Homages (2002)
large wind ensemble, 12’

I. Con moto

Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Wind Ensemble, cond. Frank Battisti

II. Scherzo

III. Andante sostenuto

University of Southern California Wind Ensemble, cond. H. Robert Reynolds

Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize, Ithaca College, 2003
Frederick Fennell Prize, ASCAP/College Band Directors National Association, 2002

Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center in collaboration with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute
Premiered August 3, 2002 by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Wind Ensemble, conducted by Frank Battisti, Seiji Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood, MA

Recorded by Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, cond. Stephen Peterson – Beyond the Red Line, Mark Records, 2006

Published by Boosey & Hawkes

“Homages” was commissioned for Frank Battisti and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Wind Ensemble as part of a fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center in 2002.  I was excited to have an opportunity to write a piece for winds after having played in bands for years myself, for I felt that the concert band was a medium I understood and one to which I could contribute something.  Due to the time constraints of the project, I did not decide on any kind of program before the composition of the piece, nor, in the beginning, even a general plan for the work; instead, I just began to write.  What came out may have owed more to tradition than other recent projects – I had not set out to expand my technical vocabulary, explore any particular compositional device or idea – but it was in no way less my work.  Writing this piece helped me to realize that I am deeply connected to this compositional tradition and indeed deeply indebted to it.  In the end, I was not surprised to discover that certain characteristics of my piece resembled the work of other, long-dead composers.  These three movements do not aim to pay homage in the usual sense; they are not tributes to anyone in particular.  In naming the work, I simply wanted to acknowledge my debt to my compositional predecessors, and in doing so, seek my place in the lineage.