Between Two Chasms

Concerto for Violin and Sinfonietta

2018, 31 minutes

Instrumentation

1111. 11,1(BTbn),1. Timp+2perc. Hp,Pno, 2111, Violin soloist.

soloist: Clara Kim, violin. Performed by the USC Thornton Edge - conducted by Donald Crockett.

program note


Between Two Chasms is a work in search of balance. Many of my recent pieces have concerned themselves with dichotomies: conceptual, emotional, aesthetic or otherwise. Often I could not start writing until I had two opposing ideas in mind that I could “compose between.” This violin concerto for Clara Kim is inspired by several dichotomies, many of them I often feel pulled apart by when I think about music: old music vs. new music, contemporary audiences vs. conservative audiences, joy vs. angst, popular vs. serious, experimental music vs…music-music? So on and so forth. Between Two Chasms is a response to this fascination; a search for a space that escapes those binary worlds. Not an argument, not a solution, not a manifesto. Simply an attempt to put these thoughts down in some form, and see if any balance comes of it.

The concerto is a series of impressions on the idea of balance, filtered through my four years living in Los Angeles, nostalgic nods to my earliest musical memories and fantasy worlds, and a search for long-form music outside the classical music repertoire. The piece is formed of 15 sections performed without break:

I.    Mirrors on 564th Street
II.    Wireframe
III.    Psygnosis 1
IV.    W A V E S Z O N E
V.    Grid to Ocean
VI.    Light Abyss
VII.    If it Rains…
VIII.    Reflections on 564th
IX.    Learning Curve
X.    Cadenza Bonus
XI.    Obligatory Sewer Level
XII.    Psygnosis 2
XIII.    Rain Repeat
XIV.    Mind
XV.    Code-A

The violin soloist is a sort of traveler in this bizarre world. The player sometimes leads the orchestra, sometimes must follow, sometimes flies out of control, sometimes stands perfectly still. Occasionally there are rules as to how the violin and orchestra relate to each other, but other times the music is not really interested in such things. Three themes appear throughout the work to offer an anchor, like memories in a being otherwise lost in a world that’s too big.

My ever grateful thanks to Clara Kim for her suggestion to collaborate on a piece with Edge, and her great friendship and support.

click below to see score