Thank you to the Millennium Composers Initiative for featuring my new jazz suite "Four Ethereal Planes" - the world premiere is THIS SUNDAY!!! Can't wait for all of you to hear this piece, and to see my friend Kevin Day perform with the fantastic Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra.
Check out the Composer Spotlight below and get your tickets today! I'll be in Holland for the concert - Michigan friends, I'd love to see you there!
Four Ethereal Planes is essentially completed. After some additional editing and reworking of material, the piece has been finished and delivered to Kevin Day (the soloist for the premiere) as well as to Jordan VanHemert and the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra. The piece may undergo additional editing throughout the rehearsal process and leading up to its premiere (in just a few short weeks!!!).
Four Ethereal Planes, as I've previously written about, conjures up four different settings inspired by various different ideas and turns them into something that's more larger-than-life, in a sense. The first movement, "Oranges and Apples," was a light-hearted yet wild ride based on my experiences riding the New York City subway lines. The second movement was a slow ballad entitled "The Dance That Never Was" for the moments in life that never happened and the opportunities missed.
The last two movements of this piece go off in different directions but are essentially inter-connected with each other. To preserve some surprises with this work, no demos have been provided for these two movements.
My goals for Four Ethereal Planes have slightly changed, but the artistic intent for the piece largely remains the same. This concerto will feel a little more standard in its overall form than I previously thought, but in a way, I think the piece is much better in that regard. There are still plenty of opportunities for all of the players to put their own interpretation on the material that they're given, especially for all of the improvisation that occurs.
Take the second movement of this piece, for example - "The Dance That Never Was." Put simply, it's a ballad. Artistically speaking, it's a ballad for the moments in life that never happened - the risks not taken, the opportunities missed, and so on. A mixture of both longing and sadness, the emotion of it all is what really drives the core ideas of this movement.
Take a listen to a rough demo of the movement above; all improvisations were performed by me for the sake of this demo.
The first movement of Four Ethereal Planes has probably what will be the quirkiest title of all four movements total. It's a loose play-on-words with the saying "apples and oranges," in which two specific ideas or items can't really be compared with each other. This is somewhat explored in the movement, but it's not the main focus.
Descriptively, "Oranges and Apples" instead creates a sonic painting of my experiences journeying on the maze-like subways of New York City. For example, to get from my NYC residence to Lower Manhattan (where my graduate school New York University is located), you would take the orange line as it's the most direct path to get there. However, as with any of the subway lines in the city, they can be unpredictable, thrilling, somewhat dangerous, and wild.
This movement takes all of this with a grain of salt, a light-hearted, humorous, and ever-changing experience with a constant sense of unpredictable motion.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog series documenting the compositional process for my first concerto - a piece for double bass and chamber ensemble that was commissioned by Matthew Gibson, a then-current doctoral student at Michigan State University. This helped me be able to better articulate the ideas I had for the piece during this process, along with documenting how some of the decisions made during that process ultimately helped shape the work into what it eventually became. Furthermore, it was the first time I opened up more about my own compositional process for creating new music.
This blog series for Four Ethereal Planes will mostly follow a similar path to the one written for the double bass concerto. There will also be another similar blog series for my other concerto to be written this summer, a work for soprano saxophone and wind ensemble. With both of these series, I intend to delve further into the compositional process for these works and, in a way, discover how much this process has changed in the few years that passed since my last blog series. With every new commission and project, one of the most important goals I always strive to accomplish is to go a different direction in my compositional process from the last piece I've written. Both of these series will explore these approaches as well.
So, this first post serves as an introduction to the piece and some of my initial inspirations -