co-commissioned by The Orlando Philharmonic and their music director Eric Jacobsen

“Pulse” was co-commissioned by the Orlando Philharmonic and the Bridgeport Symphony, and written in response to the mass murder at Orlando’s Pulse Night Club. On June 12 2016, Omar Mateen — an American-born security guard of Afghani descent — walked into the Pulse Night Club with semiautomatic weapons, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others in an unthinkable act of barbarian domestic terrorism.49 innocent people lost their lives. In my attempt to pay homage, I decided to frame the composition in 49 “ideas”, divided into seven sections of seven ideas each. Some of these “ideas” reappear throughout the piece — for example, each section is begun by the solitary heartbeat in the glockenspiel and concluded by the sombre bells. Within the sections, I have fragmented melodies, some vibrant and others more reserved.While beginning to sketch this piece, I wanted to write something to comfort the victims, their families and their community, leaving the impact of the shooter, Omar, out of it completely — initially, I planned to omit the musical notes that make up his name from my palette — “sOl-Mi-LARe” (G-E-A-D) — and also to eliminate the note “Si” (or B-flat), which to me stood for “is-is”. Having eliminated these five notes, I was left with seven pitch choices to shape my piece.

And so it became, almost instantaneously, a piece built in seven sections, each built on seven ideas, using only seven notes.

Eventually, however, I was convinced that Omar could not be written out of this piece. He appears — his motif, his notes, his darkness – towards the end of the piece, as part of a towering coda,which is followed by a very emotional postlude in the rear of the second violins..

On the compositional side, “Pulse” continues the exploration of free meter and a more liberated approach to notation, which began with my earlier orchestral pieces “Elegy” and “Current”. But in contrast to the previous pieces, in “Pulse” the conductor sets the tempo of a particular idea and then sets that idea free while conducting another — with the idea that several intersecting pulses can be going at the same time.

May this horror never happen again on our soil. May the memory of the victims be a blessing.

I’m very grateful to the Orlando Philharmonic and Eric Jacobsen for this commission and dedication to its premiere.

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, celesta, strings
DURATION approximately 9 minutes
WORLD PREMIERE March 17, 2017 in Orlando FL (postponed)
November 7, 2020 in Orlando FL (postponed again)
WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMERS Eric Jacobsen conducting the Orlando Philharmonic
RECORDINGS forthcoming
SCORE AVAILABILITY A perusal score can be sent via PDF upon request; score and parts available for hire. [contact for more info]