The Rain Is Full Of Ghosts was commissioned by the Indiana Music Educators Association, and composed during the summer of 2006. The first performance took place that November at Anderson University, by Colleen Davis, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Powers, viola; and Martha Krasnican, piano.
Prelude and Bacchanal was commissioned by Brian Kilp, my colleague at Indiana State University, with support from the Indiana State University Arts Endowment. It was written in May and June 2003, and first performed in July at the Bangkok Cultural Center in Thailand. The performers were Tan Peng Kow, violin; Brian Kilp, horn; and Eleanor Tan Ai Ling, piano.
The title is pretty much self explanatory. Much of the piece, especially the Bacchanal, is built around six-tone modes, which happened to interest me at the time. The Prelude, marked “Broad and Majestic,” features long stentorian lines in the violin and horn, punctuated by dramatic gestures in the piano. The piano introduces the main theme of the Bacchanal (“Fast, Energetic, Uninhibited”), soon joined by the violin, then the horn, in a long buildup to a frenzied conclusion.
Cloudscapes was commissioned by Dr. Joyce Wilson, my colleague at Indiana State University, for the Indiana State University Flute Ensemble. I was requested to write a piece that would be challenging for all the members of the ensemble, and especially to let the alto and bass flutes have their prominent moments. It was composed during early 2009.
I often find inspiration in nature, and the idea of doing a piece based on cloud formations had occurred to me several years previously. In the case of Cloudscapes, inspiration was retroactive; it wasn’t until the first movement was well under way that I recognized an affinity between cirrus clouds and the music I had already written, in that it had something of the wispy and delicate quality about it. Once I realized this, it seemed that the affinity had been there all along, just waiting to be noticed.
Cloudscapes is in two movements, both titled after cloud formations. Cirrus clouds are quite common, seen all over the world. Nacreous clouds, however, are rare. You aren’t likely to see one unless you travel to polar latitudes during winter. They are formed from ice crystals in the stratosphere, as high as 40 miles above the earth’s surface. In appearance, they resemble polished mother-of-pearl, hence the name. Because of their extremely high altitude, they can reflect sunlight from below the horizon before dawn or after dusk, and appear to glow brightly in the night sky. I’ve never seen them, but I imagine they must be an impressive sight.
Between Spring and Summer was commissioned by Cory Barnfield, the soprano saxophonist of the Louisville Saxophone Quartet.
The picturesque title reflects nothing more significant than the fact that most of the early sketches for the quartet were written in late May 2005 (no longer spring but not quite summer yet). The final score of the suite was begun in late June and completed on July 2, and as such, perhaps belongs more to summer than spring.