for orchestra
Year: 2002
Duration: 13'
First Performance: 13 July 2002 NJPAC Newark, NJ
  New Jersey Symphony; Lawrence Leighton Smith, conductor
3(I=picc).3(III=cor A).2+bcl.3 - - timp - perc (3): xyl/chimes/crot/BD lg and med susp.cym/Ch.cym; mar/ glock/3 tbl/mtl.wind chimes/lg ratchet/BD; vib/tam-t/sm susp.cym/SD/4 tom-t/bongos - harp - piano (=cel) - strings  

Click here to listen to an MP3 excerpt

Click here to view a PDF score

Program Notes

Vortices was originally composed in great haste during the last two weeks of January 2000. It was then performed for the first time under the name Untitled on February 25th of the same year with the Manhattan School of Music Composers’ Orchestra, conducted by Glen Barton Cortese.

The following fall, I revised the piece considerably, trying to fully bring the idea of a vortex into play. Although always an integral part of the idea of the piece, it was only at this time that I was able to realize this concept, inherent in the thematic textures created from rhythms that accelerate and then slow down in different combinations of woodwind and percussion instruments. Amidst these rhythmic textures is also a wide assortment of "swirls, eddies, and cosmic clouds" of sound, made by overlapping tuplets of different instrumental colors.

In a dramatic sense, the piece is also somewhat like a vortex. It climbs up to a "whirling" frenzy during the climax of the piece, and then settles into a ominously serene, floating haze of strings. "Bubbles" of woodwind and percussion color rise to the surface while a solo violin and cello duet reiterates the opening melodic theme in an intimate, yet emotionally charged cadenza. After the climax of the duet, the orchestra begins whirling once more before a disintegrating "explosion" marks the end of the piece.

The New Jersey Symphony gave the official premiere of the revised version of the work on July 13, 2002 with Lawrence Leighton Smith conducting. Although a relatively new work, Vortices borrows much from two earlier pieces - Samsara and the Duet for Violin and Cello.

Unfortunately, due to rules laid out by the American Federation of Musicians, I have been unable to receive a recording of the performance. As a consequence, the MP3 link on this page is to a recording of the first reading of the work from the Manhattan School of Music concert mentioned above.




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