wind ensemble and electronics: piccolo, 4 flutes, 2 oboes, english horn, e-flat clarinet, 2 b-flat clarinets, bass clarinet, SATB saxophones, 2 bassoons, contrabasson, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, piano, timpani, 4 percussion, laptop (audio playback application made from MAX/MSP/Jitter)
TWEAK was written for conductor David Vickerman and the Johns Hopkins University Wind Ensemble.
As a young musician growing up in New Hampshire, one of the greatest opportunities for development that I had was with a town band in Hollis, the next town over from where I grew up. As such, the genre of wind writing was one that was very close to my heart, but one that was largely neglected by many composers of “serious” music. Due to this lack of respect, and to a reticence to write for an ensemble so meaningful to me, kept me from writing a piece for winds until David Vickerman approached me about working on a project for him.
This piece is largely a reflection of part of my time in Oregon, where Vickerman and I met at the University of Oregon. During my studies, I had a part-time job working at a convenience store across the street from my apartment. It was the kind of place where you could go to pick up beer and cigarettes, and brought to it all sorts of people, including more than its fair share of people clearly on crystal meth.
These meth addicts were fascinating to me: they would speak in fragments, shout, sing, mumble, and babble to me behind the counter. More than once, they reminded me of the work of Expressionist painter Egon Schiele. These “living paintings” captivated me and made a strong impression on me that would sometimes take days to get out of my head.
Musically, I have always had an interest in the Expressionist music of Arnold Schoenberg, especially his using larger-than-life emotions and tumultuous transitions between sections at high speed. These techniques figured largely into the composition of TWEAK, and give the piece its quivering, nervous energy throughout.