watch a performance by the Portland Youth Philharmonic and David Hattner:

co-commissioned by The Britt Festival and The Louisville Orchestra, and their music director Teddy Abrams

“Current” was inspired by the landscape of currents, and by taking a look at the orchestra as a group of individuals coming together to interpret a piece not as a singular unit but in a more personalized way. The score consists of musical ideas which are not aligned to a unified sense of pulse; there are very few measures with a time signature. For the majority of the piece, the conductor cues musicians only at the start of a bar — how the music is shaped between one downbeat and the next is largely up to the performers. At the beginning of the piece, this effect (sometimes called “aleatoric music”) is used to create sweeping waves; later on it’s used to create intricate rhythmic textures, uniquely different at each reading.

I realized that by leaving rhythmic precision on the sidelines I would be inviting chaos to reign over the score. To regain some amount of control, I felt compelled to employ simplified notation (most long notes are “whole” and most short notes are “sixteenths”) and to leave musical ideas in their germinal form rather than fully developed. Having an entire section of musicians interpret the same rhythmic figure individually can lead to a beautiful and unpredictable sea of counterpoint and harmony.

My hope with “Current” is to give the musicians more latitude to interpret their parts, invite them to put more of a personal stamp on the performance, and, through listening to each other, come together in a new way.

I’m deeply indebted to Teddy Abrams, the musicians and staff of The Britt Festival and The Louisville Orchestra for their courage and trust in commissioning “Current”, my first commissioned work for full orchestra.

CATEGORY full orchestra
INSTRUMENTATION 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, 4 percussionists (snare drum, bass drum, tenor drum, triangle, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, toms, claves, glockenspiel, xylophone), harp, piano, strings
DURATION approximately 8 minutes
WORLD PREMIERE August 5 2016 at The Britt Festival, Oregon
WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMERS Teddy Abrams conducting The Britt Festival Orchestra
RECORDINGS see video of the Portland Youth Philharmonic performance, above
SCORE AVAILABILITY A perusal score can be sent via PDF upon request; score and parts available for hire. [contact for more info]