TOLLING THE SPIRITS

Composed: 1994
Premiere: Chestnut Brass Company, Sonoklect Festival, Washington and Lee University October 14, 1995
Duration:  18 minutes
Instrumentation: Brass Quintet

PROGRAM NOTES

I.  Polluted Landscape
II. Lago di Como
III. Spirits
IV.  Monk’s Canon
V. Clangor

Tolling The Spirits was begun during a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Lake Como in Italy. The time there was filled with the sounds of bells ringing and a sense of the presence of ancient spirits. Polluted Landscape portrays the ancient sleepy villages and the quiet lake (an occasional bell ringing), seemingly alive with restless spirits, as it is engulfed by an evening mist, or unfortunately sometimes by a yellowish polluted fog. This movement is played spatially with the horn, trombone and tuba at the sides and back of the hall. Lago di Como was inspired by the local bells heard ringing in the village of Bellagio and from various other villages across the lake and down the valley. In this movement, the pitch and rhythmic relationships between these various bells are explored, as well as finding ways to imitate the colors of the bells by exploiting the overtones of the brass. During the movement, the performers move to the stage. Spirits experiments with the timbral possibilities of using only air sounds. The aura of spirits permeated the mountain, the ruins of an ancient fortress on the precipice over the lake and the 17th century Villa where I lived. Perhaps inspired by this influence, or by the historical land of Renaissance music, Monks' Canon became a five-voice strict canon, with two voices in augmentation, which evolves through tonal and non-tonal harmonies. It culminates in a stretto before the final coda. With the return from the peaceful old-world setting of Bellagio to the clamorous, frenetic pace of modern day American life, Clangor appeared. Clangor is a stream of consciousness depiction of the complexities, tensions and scattered spirit of a modern-day working woman.