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CEIBA PENTANDRA (2014) - for orchestra

Awards: Finalist, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, Frost School of Music Orchestra Composition Contest Award


Premiere: Frost School of Music Concerto Competition Composition Concert, Miami, FL, January 27th, 2015


Duration:  ca. 10 min


2222/4231/timp/2 perc/strings


Program Note:


Ceiba Pentandra, also known as the kapok tree, is a towering tree that grows in equatorial rainforests around the world. It has strong buttress roots and is one of the few trees that grow beyond the canopy of the rainforest into the emergent layer, often towering to more than 150 feet. In this work for orchestra, I capture the imagery of this enormous tree cutting through the various strata of the rainforest—creeping with dense tangled roots along the forest floor with a snake-like melody in the muted brass, bassoons, and pizzicato strings, up through to the understory with the swinging vines and dense foliage, evoked by syncopated rhythms and figurations in the bongos and toms, through to the canopy, where birds sing and bats fly noisily in a cacophony of string harmonics and aleatoric wind writing, then finally cutting through to the canopy to the emergent layer with majestic harmonies. This occurs in a non-linear fashion throughout the piece, but is unified by a single melody that is re-orchestrated several times, not unlike the last tableau of Stravinsky’s Firebird. This melody stands like the vertical and steadfast trunk of the tree.

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