The Houston Chamber Orchestra was kind enough to allow me to post a few excerpts of my concert down there this month. The piece, Portraits, is in 3 movements and features violin and string orchestra. I’ve put it in the ‘compositions‘ area of this site.
Overall the tonal lanquage is pretty straightforward. I wrote it for a Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra subscription concert and I wanted this to be a piece that would be accessible while still taking some chances. The first movement plays with the meter 7/8, using an ostinato that is passed around the group all throughout the movement. The violin plays a diatonic theme that is also developed throughout. In addition, I used a lot of rough bow strokes in the ensemble, creating a gritty energetic sound.
The second movement has the strings muted for almost the entire movement. I love this texture. In this passage I tried to play with different quiet colors and sonorities. String instruments are capable of an almost infinite variety of color and I was exploring those here.
The third movement is a somewhat twisted fiddler’s reel. Celtic music must be somewhere in my blood, (I could play the Irish penny whistle almost before I could write my name) and I tried to have a bit of fun with a hybrid of the style here. I gave the violins and soloist a tricky tutti section that challenged them a bit (I hope.)
I thought the musicians in Houston played beautifully. Thanks to the orchestra for allowing me to share a bit of this piece.