So I’ve been…

…invited to write a piece for Sospiro New Music Vocal Ensemble, a 22-member vocal group based out of Eugene (really, the University of Oregon).  I’m excited about the prospect of getting to write some more vocal music, as I don’t often get the chance.

The piece itself is for four singers (SSAA) plus flute, clarinet, trumpet, and bassoon; us composers were asked to choose instruments from the Stravinsky Octet, and I got my third choice (oh well, you can’t win ’em all!).  I’ve chosen to set a poem by Emily Dickinson:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons–
That opresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes–

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us–
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the meanings are–

None may teach it–Any–
‘Tis the Seal Despair–
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air–

When it comes, the Landscape listens–
Shadows–hold their breath–
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death–

I’m still trying to work out some kinks in the instrumentation.  I keep going back and forth between whether or not to have the instrumentalists double some auxiliaries…then I remind myself to keep it simple (how does that K.I.S.S. rule go? Oh yeah…).

Another issue I’m running into is that I want to limit the tessitura to a very small range, and of course I can’t find one that is good for all of those instruments!  I’m hoping to do some sweet alternate fingering trills, which meant that I needed to find some alternate fingerings.  My friend Mark Knippel pointed me to this great website for alternate flute fingerings:  check it out!

Keep an eye out on my calendar for the upcoming concert!

  5 comments for “So I’ve been…

  1. Amy
    11/09/2009 at 2:15 pm

    that is one of my very favorite poems

  2. JMG
    11/09/2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hey Amy, do you have me linked to your own blog or something like that? How do you keep such good tabs on me?

  3. Lydia
    11/09/2009 at 4:25 pm

    Great poem. If there is any democratization of your composition process due to this blog, I’m going to vote that you use bass clarinet as the only auxiliary. Lots of potential there in terms of range and color. (what’s the kiss rule?)

  4. JMG
    11/09/2009 at 4:33 pm

    I’m totally with you on the bass clarinet, Lyd!

    The K.I.S.S. rule stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I usually need to tell this to myself about once a day!

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