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Governing Forces (2023)

Instrumentation: 3(III=picc).2(II=ca).3(in Bb, III=bcl).2(II=cbsn)——perc(3): crotales/kick dr/field dr/log dr/crash cyms/sandpaper blocks (2 pair)/whip/snare dr/bongos/2 sizzle cyms/castanets (2 pair)/wood chimes/rattle/marimba/bass dr/tam-tam/rototoms—pno—hp—strings

Duration: ca. 14'

First performed: February 26th, 2024 by the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, New York (dir. Jeffrey Milarsky)

I. Antecedent/Impetus

II. Consequent/Higher Spheres

Program Note

Governing Forces began with the idea of writing a piece which withholds the full-bore sound of an entire orchestra acting as a unit until the very end, even as it spends its runtime building up to that sound. During the writing process, this unidirectional narrative was reshaped into two parts. The first part is densely populated with melodic fragments passed between different instruments—set off by an upward gesture through the whole orchestra which begins the work—and ends with a rushed attempt at unifying the orchestra which results in a noisy collapse. The much longer second part meditates on the detritus left behind by this collapse, focusing more on chamber textures before material on a grander scale begins to exert its influence and gradually pull the music back towards a tutti sound. This texture manages to sustain itself and causes all sense of melody and meter to fall away under sheets of sound. 


The piece’s title perhaps belies a rather romantic notion which guided me in the later stages of writing: that our relationships and actions are directed in some part by forces on a scale we cannot comprehend.

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