Transfiguration

Symphony Orchestra (3222 4331 timpani, 3 percussion, coloratura soprano, piano, strings)
Commissioned by Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield for the University of Missouri Chancellor's Arts Showcase, April 10, 2017.

Transfiguration (2017) was conceived as a musical allegory of the metaphysical process of the dissolution of physical form. One might initially think of the Transfiguration of Christ as a religious representation of this idea, or in classical mythology one could consider the birth of Pegasus from the blood of Medusa as another instance. Medusa, here a representation of stone and solidity, gives way to Pegasus, a creature of flight and agility.

When composing this work, I was concerned with the process behind such metamorphoses. In a sense, the final goal is the aural dissipation of the orchestra. The opening of the piece is established with intensely corporeal figures, ecological sound patterns, and scattered monoliths of sound. However, brief moments of animation and granulation serve to slowly dissolve these blocks. Through this process, space is created which allows the scattered musical materials to retake a stable form that is very unlike the original. Less traditional playing techniques are used as structural tools to create this distinction between the initial sound forms and the latter ones, so that the resultant sound is something entirely new as the materials take shape once more after their dissolution. But to fully realize the allegory, it must be considered that the idea of transfiguration typically implies a sense of transcendence. Weight and form are traded for lightness and agility. The corporeal becomes incorporeal. To accomplish such transcendence, techniques are used specifically to create sounds that are disassociated from the sounding body they originate from. Therefore, the piece begins in a place that is recognizably “orchestral” and what I would consider musically corporeal, but ends in an unfamiliar sound world that is populated by seemingly weightless and nimble sound objects.