Mask for Orchestra

posted on July 29th 2014 in with 0 Comments

Instrumentation: Orchestra 3,3,3,3; 4, 3, 3, 1; harp, piano, timpani, 4 perc., strings- 8, 8, 6, 6, 4

Duration: 6 Minutes

Premiered by American Composer's Orchestra, David Alen Miller, (Cond.), 2007 Underwood New Music Readings on May 8, 2007

The title, “Mask“ (2006) for orchestra, refers to the orchestration of this piece in which the instrumental identities are constantly disguised by other instruments of similar timbre.  This way of orchestrating focuses on the representation of the different sections of the orchestra used as an ornamentation to others.  The different sections of the piece are worked out so that there is alternation between “orchestral” sounding music and “chamber” music.  Each short chamber section is veiled by larger orchestral sections.  The piece is about 6 minutes in length.

For me this method of “coloring” is the essence of my role as a percussionist.  I’m constantly challenged to deal with complex sounds and create ways to make them work within the context of the implied style.  I have been very fortunate to be surrounded everyday by some of the greatest music ever written performed at the highest level.  This has always fueled my work as a composer but especially for this piece.  Some of my teachers are Bartok, Beethoven, Ligeti, Mahler, Strauss, Stravinsky, and the invaluable musicians of the New York Philharmonic.  The musical material of “Mask” is mostly developed from sketches I have kept over the years from my “lessons” on stage.  Most of these notes are just indications like “oboe, muted trumpet, vibraphone, and suspended cymbal-high register” or “short syncopated low undertones-bass clarinet, contra, muted trombone and timpani”.  In “Mask” I’ve attempted to look deeper into these complex sounds to create another dimension of sound, which in itself, often goes unnoticed.