Radial Play | 2014
About the work:
I wrote Radial Play for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a group of one hundred and twenty teenagers from around the country, whose talent and enthusiasm yielded brightly-hued and exciting performances of the work.
The commission was originally intended to be a ‘concert opener,’ a brief and energetic statement that would show off the full forces and youthful exuberance of this group. Although the music indeed radiates a particular extroversion, I abandoned this simple approach in favor of a crafting a challenging, mercurial study of orchestral color and texture—one that aims to assign new and unfamiliar roles to the young musicians, demonstrating that orchestral music is a fluid, forward-thinking art. In Radial Play, the harps—not the percussion—are the music’s heartbeat; the brass gasp pitch-less exhales; the violins create burt of distorted noise with, as indicated in the score, ‘scratchy, nasty’ gestures.
The music itself is made of quickly shifting, kaleidoscopic counterpoint, which orbits a static, nuclear F sharp. First with the two harps, then with the vibraphone, piano and flutes, then brass, and finally the whole ensemble, the counterpoint expands and contracts around the center pitch, moving its way through each instrumental group, its skeins gradually wrapped and woven into moments of dense and chaotic activity. In the last breath of the work, the counterpoint extends itself to the thresholds of the orchestra’s range, snaps, and quickly dissolves.
This work was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for The National Youth Orchestra of The United State of America
3(III doubles picc).3.3(II doubles bass).3(III=cbsn) - 4.4.3(III=bass tbn).1 - perc (4 players) [ vibraph, crot, glock, sandpaper blocks(2), sizzle cymb, bass dr, washboard, splash cymb, tam, gong, ratchet ] timp - pno - 2 hp - strings (188.8.131.52.8 suggested)
Radial Play was made possible with the support from the New Music USA Composer Assistance Program