Gravity and Light (1993)

1) ‘Twas Brillig
2) In Memoriam Christopher Lewis
3) Rudimentary Machine

for: string orchestra (6-6-5-4-2)
duration: 12 minutes
premiered: by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Oct. 13, 1993
Manitoba Arts Council Commission

In Gravity and Light I am working with a small group of melodic intervals and harmonic sonorities to achieve a balance of unity and contrast between individual movements. These germinal elements remain intact and are developed as the piece progresses. The piece is comprised of the following movements:

Mvt. I-‘Twas Brillig. Many will recognize this title as the opening of the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky in which the young protagonist seeks out and slays a fictional beast, the Jabberwock. The Jabberwock has always been, for me, a symbol of the beginning of some action: the impetus which sets one on a particular course, whether rapturous or perilous. The music in this movement follows a course from gentle, to more jagged, with a return to gentle.

Mvt. II-In Memoriam Christopher Lewis is an expression of grief over the tragic loss of a brilliant musical scholar, educator and friend. The movement opens with a lyrical cello solo which introduces all of the main musical ideas.

Mvt. III-Rudimentary Machine explores the largely clockwork existence that is so often our lives. As the music suggests, however, this metronomic pace is often derailed by unpredictable events. The rhythmic momentum and harmonic rhythm of this movement owe much to rock and roll and minimalism.

Movements I and II are similar in formal design (generally ABA structures), and movement III, which balances movement I and II in terms of length, is through-composed with much developmental repetition. Gravity and Light is approximately 13 minutes long.

Gravity and Light was commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in 1993. The premiere was given in that same year. Simon Streatfeild conducted.

I’m not sure where the title for this piece came from but for a recent discussion of the relationship between gravity and light, click here.

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