Cryptogram (2011) for wind ensemble

INSTRUMENTATION: picc, 2 fl (2 dbl alto), 2 ob, eng hn, Eb clar, 3 Bb clar, bs clar, 2 bsn, c bsn, 4 sax (satb), 3 Bb tpt, 4 hn, 2 tbn, bs tbn, euph, tba, timp, 5 perc, pno (opt dbl celesta), cb

DURATION: ca. 9:00

WINNER: ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award=


The title Cryptogram, with its implication of textual encoding, refers to my habit of grabbing a momentary musical inspiration from jazz, rock, bluegrass, concert music, or whatever I happen to be listening to, and using it to drive the logic of a concert piece. In this case, the appropriated material is used to define harmonic, structural, and gestural aspects of the work rather than manifesting itself in strict quotation. A consequence of this method is that the source becomes integrated into the aesthetic of the piece to such an extent that it is no longer recognizable. Suffice it to say, the boppish wind lines and declamatory style of the melodic material should provide clues to anyone who might be interested.

In addition to its hidden qualities, Cryptogram is also structured around two distant stylistic poles: an emphatically tacky fanfare and its pounding, dissonant counterpoint. Though intentionally disorienting in their deployment, these sections create stylistic focal points for the piece around which everything else shifts kaleidoscopically.