six significant landscapes (2015-16) for narrator and ensemble

Six Significant Landscapes is a programmatic work based on a series of wonderfully evocative Wallace Stevens poems of the same name. Each poem in the series suggests a unique atmosphere and uses a distinct language and tone, but subtle motivic connections create a sense of unity between the poems. As I worked on this piece, I struggled to musically capture the moods of the text while still representing this overall unity. In this performance, the final three movements of what will be a six movement cycle for narrator and octet will be performed. In the fourth movement, a trembling texture descends through a series of nocturnal variations (using a quotation from Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire) before settling back into silence. The fifth movement juxtaposes pulsing repeated notes with shimmering colors, utilizing harmonicas to draw diverse timbres from the ensemble. The sixth movement begins with a solemn progression of open fifths, but springs into a lyrical section of joyfully angular lines.