through the night, dark and drear

New, modular work for winds, percussion, and electronics

Originally commissioned by Dr. Anne McNamara for trumpet sextet, I am re-imaginging through the night, dark and drear as three distinct pieces which can be combined to form a number of unique performances for your ensemble. 

If you are confused, I don't blame you! Let me explain below. 

Artistic Rationale: Why?

My goal is to explore the darker, creepier, and more fantastic aspects of Der Erlkonig, and I believe that the wind ensemble provides the perfect platform for such exploration.

It is important that I make this clear up front: I don't believe the wind ensemble needs electronics. The colorful depth of the ensemble is without equal (yes, I am looking at you orchestra!) I have been biding my time to revisit this piece and start playing with all the expressive possibilities of the ensemble. 

Now, that said, electronics can do many things that wind players cannot (mainly, they don't need to breathe!) Adding in colorful touches and textures to support the wind players, especially in a work as dynamic and evocotive as Erlkonig, will greatly expand the creative depth and breadth.  

But why three pieces?

A key theme of Schubert's Erlkonig is the frequent persepctive changes between the father, son, and Erlkonig. These narrative shifts result in dramatic changes in the musical drama as the child's tone becoming increasingly panicked as the father ignores his pleas, and, rather perversely, the Erlkonig becomes more alluring and seductive.

In my original sextet version of through the night, I predominantly wrote from the perspective of the father. As a father of two young boys, I felt like this allowed me to connect with the importance of listening to the most vulnerable amongst us and, specifically for me, my own children.

With this new imagining, I want to expand on the perspective manipulation to write not only from the viewpoint of the father, but also from the view point of the Erlkonig. To accomplish  a piece of music, written three ways, with sections that are interchangeable between each version. This will allow you as the conductor to assemble the work that you feel best fits your ensemble, concert, and artistic interests.

My goal is that you as the conductor can assemble a piece from a pile of interchangeable blocks of music. 

Will it be a traditional work for winds, from the view point of the father with hints of the nearly unheard darkness that lurks in the forest, or will the piece be a gnarly, warped, disturbed exploration of the supernatural? Or somewhere in between? It is up to you!

Multiple paths, 

one piece.

In Version 1, I will preserve the original dynamic of the sextet, keeping the narrative largely from the perspective of the parent (and therefore the Erlkonig's music is faded, muted, and filtered, merely perceived as whispers on the wind). This will be, by and large, a traditional transcription of the original trumpet sextet. 

In Version 2, with the addition of electronics, I will shift that perspective away from the father towards the Erlkonig. The electronics will warp the ensemble sound, and move the piece closer towards a dark fantasy horror

In Version 3, we move almost entirely to a narrative from the perspective of the Erlkonig, unfiltered by the confines of tonality and conventions of early-19th century German lieder. This music will be dark, mysterious, alurring, terrifying, and will possess an almost alien beauty. The original work will remain as an influence, but it will be warped, distorted, and pushed through the narrative filter of an impossible creature who is beyond our understanding. 

Version 1: Traditional Acoustic Wind Ensemble 

This version of the work is a traditionally orchestrated piece written for winds and percussion. Normal wind ensemble conventions will be followed (i.e., standard instrumentation, doublings, etc.) 

Sample Recording

winds - version 1 - page one playback.mp3

Version 2: Wind Ensemble, Percussion, and Electronics

This version is a re-working of Version 1 to incorporate electronics. The electronics will be controlled with a custom app for Mac, PC, and iPad. 

Version 3: Heavily Electronic, with Winds and Percussion

This takes us further into the electronic realm and leans heavily on ambience and the darker side of the story. Like Version 2, the electronics will be controlled via a custom app for Mac, PC, and iPad.

Sample Recording

through the night - version 3 - sample.mp3

All consortum backers will also receive the orignal trumpet sextet version of the piece!

through the night, dark and drear - original trumpet score - Full Score.pdf