Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday, and that the New Year brings much joy and peace to you and your family. I released two new pieces at the end of the year, for two sides of the season – one reflective, one joyful.
“Grace” serendipitously developed into an unusual combination of instruments and styles. Ethno-musicologist Beth Bahia Cohen is featured, playing both the turkish yayli tambour and fiddle in a middle eastern-style. The piece also features cellist Ashima Scripp as well as violins, african hand drums and loungy electronica. The piece originated with the opening melody and bass groove. As I added to it I wanted to contrast the static harmony of the opening section with progressively richer and brighter sonorities, maintaining a continuous lift. The title “Grace” is intended to evoke it’s meaning from the film The Tree of Life, described here by NPR’s Marco Gleiser:
“Grace here means generosity, forgiveness, a form of inner strength that can suffer all sorts of insults and still keep going, resolute and beatific. There are many ways of describing it, but all of them are anchored in our existence, in our humanity.”
“Toys,” also features Ashima, this time with a string quartet rounded out by violinists Omar Chen Güey and Olga Patramanskaya-Bell and violist Drew Ricciardo. I wrote this after hearing an interview in which Hollywood orchestrator/composer Conrad Pope discussed the importance of writing parts for musicians that they’ll find fun to play. So, as someone that does not play violin, viola or cello, I proceeded to write something that I would find fun to play – plucking lots of open strings and an occasional expressive but simple melody. Throw in some big snare and bass drums to beat and cymbals to smash, and voilà – the sound of musicians playing with their toys!