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Instrumentation: Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Piano, Violin, Cello, Percussion

Duration: 7'

*Winner of the 2019 Iowa Composers Forum Student Composers Competition*

Program Notes: 

     The winter of 2018-2019 was a long one for the Midwest.  Snow and bitter cold temperatures continued into March and even April, making many doubtful if spring would ever come.  During one of these April snowstorms, I braved the outdoors to go on a run.  While the weather was dreadful, at about the midway point of my run, I came to a clearing that was shielded from the bitter wind, and I was struck by the sight that I came across.  The clear white snow was falling slowly, accumulating on top of the bright green grass that had started growing with the start of “spring.”  This coexistence of white and green was fascinating, and as I continued on my run I thought of how the two separate entities came together to make a single image. 

     In Dichotomy, I attempt to explore the picture that is formed when green and white combine.  Though each color could easily be used to represent a season (white=winter, and green=spring), for this piece I instead delved into the colors themselves.  White is an accumulation of every color.  In one sense, it is so much of everything that it is nothing.  To depict this, I used a 12-tone row as the basis of each “white” section.  When every pitch is used, it is overwhelming to the point where all sense of tonality is lost.  Green is a combination of blue and yellow, a mixing of calm and relaxing with jumpy and energetic.  Herein lies the second “dichotomy” of this piece.  The melody that is at the center of each “green” section is a juxtaposition of short motives that represent blue and yellow, respectively.  Both blue and yellow are developed in separate sections throughout the piece.  Blue uses conjunct motion and pleasant harmonies to paint a relaxing soundscape, while the disjunct and comical motives that speed by in each yellow section give an exciting and somewhat frantic jolt to the listener.  The shorter motives explored in these blue and yellow sections give greater meaning to the green sections heard at the beginning, then towards the end of the piece during the climactic build.  The pitch collections used for blue, yellow, and green come from segments of the inverted “white” tone row, stressing the notion that white is made up of every other color. 


     The climax of the piece ties into my experience on my run, when green and white are brought together, one on top of the other.  During this section, the ensemble slowly moves from seven separate voices to just the two melodies (representing green and white) doubled numerous times and in rhythmic unison. 

     Aside from depicting the four colors mentioned above, my biggest goal in writing this piece was to take advantage of the massive range found in a Pierrot ensemble.  Especially in the yellow and green sections, a sound mural is created when each instrument plays with rhythmic accuracy.  Multiple octave leaps often take place over just a sixteenth note, creating a dramatic pointillistic effect that brings great energy to the music.  While each individual part might seem strange in places, players should trust that the overall effect can be seen in the score and heard from the audience.  It is my hope that this piece is a rewarding experience for each player and provides a new way of thinking about colors, for performer and listener alike.

Completed: May 2019

Performance History: 

March 4, 2020

Meredith Tipping, conductor; Kim Abeyta, flute/piccolo; Glenn Zimmer, clarinet/bass clarinet; Jennifer LeGarde, piano; Abigail Moore, violin, Haley Nicholson, cello; Mack Vos, percussion

Isaac R. Smith Senior Recital

Davis Recital Hall, University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

July 6, 2019

Joshua Hong, conductor; Leo Sussman, flute/piccolo; Celeste Markey, clarinet/bass clarient; Kathy Lee, piano; Kimberly Durflinger, violin; Isidora Nojkovic, cello; Jordan Walsh, percussion

New Music at the Atlantic Music Festival

Lorimer Chapel, Colby College (Waterville, Maine)

Recording History:

November 12, 2020

Meredith Tipping, conductor; Kim Abeyta, flute/piccolo; Glenn Zimmer, clarinet/bass clarinet; Jennifer LeGarde, piano; Abigail Moore, violin, Haley Nicholson, cello; Mack Vos, percussion

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