DARKNESS MADE VISIBLE (2003, rev. 2008)

Full orchestra (9’20”)

In some regards, Darkness Made Visible is a work of fusion, one that exploits the concept of counterplay between two disparate styles: one angular, frenetic, and explosive, the other conservative, predictable in its construction and harkening back to a Romantic bravura. In another sense, the piece is the composer’s madcap stylistic journey from Strauss’ dramatic outpourings to Birtwistle’s rambunctious avant-garde, showing the listener how even the most inhibiting contemporary works are built upon the foundation of previous centuries of music. The piece is conceived in three continuous sections, opening with an exposition of two contrasting thematic ideas presented in alternation (one begins with a solo in the English horn, the other with a canon between the trombones and percussion). The piece then starts over from the beginning, attempting to superimpose one idea onto the other, resulting in a spectral “blowout.” The concluding section addresses the themes from the two initially uncompromising designs, progressively fusing them together element by element, resulting in an exciting outcome entirely unpredictable from the work’s beginning.

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Live performance by Marin Alsop (conductor) and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, 08/2008.