chamber orchestra - 8 min.
Physical processes and the natural sublime reliably serve as stimulants when I compose, and I suppose that these sources of inspiration are rather traditional in most of the arts. Remnants of this tradition may seem banal now; for instance, the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School are respectable, but do not strike us with the same power they once did.
However, I think this tradition is periodically refreshed with new windows provided by science into the operation of natural phenomena. Examples of this are Gerhard Richter's oppressive mural Strontium (2005), or any of Iannis Xenakis's works with arborescenes, such as Lichens (1983) or Jonchaies (1977). For me, these new windows are often merely evocative, but sometimes the revealed physical processes suggest specific compositional techniques.
Nimbus has a dual meaning; in meteorological literature it is a type of precipitation bearing cloud, but in religious iconography it is another word for a halo or aureole, usually surrounding a holy figure or deity. One can easily imagine a combination of these definitions. Many of the textures in this piece are composed of vaporous filaments with a glowing, leading edge. Juxtaposed masses of these filaments are buffeted along at different speeds, as are the constituent members within each mass. Diverging masses dissipate atmospherically, while the tumult of converging masses leads toward an incisive outburst.
World Premiere: November 16, 2011
Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, University of California, San Diego
Performed by Palimpsest
Aleck Karis, conductor
Midwest Premiere: May 10, 2015
First Baptist Church, Columbia, MO
Exit 128 Chamber Orchestra
Travis Herd, conductor