Grain (2012)

for 3 duos: cello and piano; 2 guitars; violin & percussion

Duration: variable, ca. 5-20’

Premiere: Chicago Academy for the Arts Ensemble for New Music, Chicago, June 2013

Commissioned by Chicago Academy for the Arts

This work was commissioned by the newly formed contemporary music ensemble at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. At the time, I had just completed some research at the Earle Brown Music Foundation in Rye, New York. I felt that the wealth of ideas and the energy with which Brown approached open form would be the perfect starting point for a work for the ensemble’s young and curious musicians. The title is a reference to the many meanings of the word grain: wheat (as a basic sustenance), kernel, layers and patterns of wood, a tendency, a dye. In this work, I tried to construct simple materials - grains - that could color, grow, layer and make larger patterns. All the musicians are given the same set of musical materials: the six players are divided into duos; each duo constructs a unique continuity and tempo to move through the music. The result is a careful balance of independence and ensemble playing: at once, a homage to Brown and chamber-music making.