for 6 flutes, alto flute, bass flute
catalog number H-CS81
duration: approx. 8 minutes
Purchase at JW Pepper; $36.00
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.