Signals From the Edge (2015)
2fl(picc), 2ob, 2cl, bcl, 2bsn, 4hns 1tpt, timp/perc(1 player), stgs
This short one-movement work was composed for and is dedicated to the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra, and its music director, Trond Saeverud. The piece is generally quiet and somewhat minimalist in terms of the musical materials.
The title came to me once I began listening to and working with the musical ideas that arose. What is a signal? A sign, a gesture, an indication, a hint, perhaps a warning sign. It is not a sentence, not a story, not an essay. And what is the reference to “the edge?” The edge of consciousness, of perception, of existence, of time, of the land, of space?
Let’s just say that the initial repeated note idea is inspired by a fog horn that I have grown used to hearing over the past few years. I also have enjoyed following news of the New Horizons spacecraft, launched in 2006. It made its closest approach to Pluto in July, 2015 and continues to travel through the vast Kuiper Belt.
String orchestra. 22 mins.
I. The Voice of the Stream
II. Danse Profane
A set of three musical essays that began its life as a string sextet, composed for the Atlantic Sinfonietta. In 2013 I revised and re-cast the work for string orchestra. The movements are titled The Voice of the Stream, Danse Profane (an homage to Claude Debussy) and Memory. The brief poems that came to me as inspiration for each movement can be read at the Audio link below.
Samsara Breakdown (2013)
3(picc)3(eh)3(bcl) 4231 timp, perc(1), stgs
A work for full orchestra in one movement. Samsara is a concept common to Hinduism and Buddhism; it is the realm or cycle of suffering in which all beings in the universe participate and which can only be escaped through enlightenment. Beings are driven by the three poisons: delusion (or ignorance of their true nature), attachment (desire or greed), and aversion (anger or hatred).
Concerto for Piano (2002)
Piano solo, orchestra. 35’
23(eh)22 423 timp, perc(1), piano solo, stgs
II. Distant Places
III. A Joyous Dance
Commissioned by the Enid Symphony Orchestra (Oklahoma). I performed the piano solo part in the premiere performances on February 9 & 10, 2003. My brother Douglas Newell conducted the orchestra.
In the first movement I explored the concept of the piano and orchestra as characters in a series of dramatic dialogues that create the formal structure of the movement.
Distant Places was inspired by my experience travelling extensively to Asia in my work outside of music. The entire movement is quite songlike, even the intense chant-like passages of the middle section, played fortissimo. A short transitional passage in the piano leads directly into A Joyous Dance. It is in the classical rondo form; the second theme is inspired by my affection for the music of India, and a brief homage to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy begins the coda.
The Concerto was made possible by the support of local sponsors, the Oklahoma Arts Council and by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center.
22(eh)3(bcl)2 223 timp, perc(1), stgs
I. An Ardent Joining
III. Twilight Shadows
The first performance was given by the Governor’s School Orchestra in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Contact me for audio samples or a perusal score.