Three Night Pieces for Chamber Orchestra (2015)
My Doctoral Dissertation written in 2014-15.
Torrent of light and river of the air
And evening's breath, wandering
Like a swarm of fire-flies
Three Night Pieces for Chamber Orchestra was composed with different qualities of the evening as inspiration. With each piece, I aim to portray a unique nighttime environment, utilizing various orchestration possibilities within the ensemble, and extracting fragments of Romantic poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Alfred Tennyson for titles.
In this piece, I address the inherent difficulties of the ensemble, which, is not a full orchestra, but also, not a small chamber ensemble. I strive to create balance between instrument families, when each performer is both a soloist and ensemble player at any given time. I confront this issue by alternating between smaller chamber settings, solos, and full ensemble orchestration, as well as focusing on ideal instrumental ranges and uses of dynamics.
Although the titles of each piece suggest programmatic writing, the work does not tell a definite story. I use the poem fragments as inspiration to develop different moods or atmospheres, and subtly create an imprint of these environments through sound.
The first and longest piece, Torrent of air and river of the night, is titled from a line in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's, "The Galaxy." The inspiration is found in the splendor of the visible galaxy during clear, dark nights. A multitude of swirling colors is accompanied by a sense of wonder and insignificance. The second piece, And evening's breath, wandering, is given its name from Percy Bysshe Shelley's, "Evening: Ponte Al Mare, Pisa." This work was inspired by warm summer evenings by a river; humid, sweet, and tranquil; buzzing with night insects. The third piece, Like a swarm of fire-flies, is titled from a line in Alfred Tennyson's, "Locksley Hall." The inspiration is twofold: stars and literal swarms of fire-flies. There is a sense of bubbly excitement along with the delight of catching and releasing fire-flies as a child.