Instrumentation: flute, cello, piano, percussion
Year Composed: 2014
Premiere: July 2014 • Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble
Gentle Ascent is a study in prolonged tension. I am continually fighting against my inner ear’s predisposition to reach for arrival points. If this instinct is satiated however, I end up with many discreet units of music, distracting from the cohesive whole that I wish to communicate. In composing this piece, I tried to curb my more immediate instincts in order to create space for a longer, gentler ascent to any sort of arrival. What is left is a more continual episode in which the development more subtly undulates beneath the surface of the music.
In composing Gentle Ascent, I also sought to create something pleasing to my own musical taste. To some this may sound obvious, but at times I find my musical decisions being made, dare I say, for sophistication’s sake. At a certain point, you realize that your own ear is the best guide available. It’s easy in the world of contemporary classical music to write what you think you should be writing, and not what you want to hear. Perhaps a healthy balance of the two is ideal, but to ignore our own unique preferences is to reject the best gift we, as composers, have been given.