Scorched Earth

ensemble: symphonic wind ensemble
duration: 9 - 10 minutes
written: fall - winter 2018
commissioned by: Garner High School Wind Ensemble; Greg Jenner, director.
co-commissioned by: Panther Creek High School; David Robinson & Rocky Ankeny, directors;
Green Hope High School; Brian Meyers, director; William G. Enloe High School; Robert C. Hunter, director;
Leesville Road High School; Alyssa Montgomery, director; Eastern Alamance High School; Ben Crotts, director
premièred: May 9, 2019; Garner, NC

Program Note:

When I get the opportunity to write a piece for a major anniversary, as was the case for this piece, I often think about the past and the history of the ensemble asking for the new work. In the case of this piece for Garner High School’s 50th anniversary, I changed course and thought about the future. Around the time I began work, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released by the United States government and it documented the devastating major changes that will occur on Earth in the coming decades with some of the worse effects are already occuring such as wildfires in California, major flooding in the South, and famines around the world. Looking towards the future in the context of this piece, I started to wonder what Raleigh would look like, what America would look like, and what the world would look like in say the next 50 years.

Scorched Earth is a piece that moves extremely slowly and gradually. Its motives and themes emerge at an almost glacial pace, allowing the pulse of the concert space to slow down. The piece operates in large cycles, a nod to the composer Jean Sibelius who I find to be the most organic and nature inspired composer to have ever lived. Each cycle is signaled with the same material; a vast sounding of the overtone series, the sound of wind, and a descending canon in the high woodwinds. From there, new musical material is introduced and inexorably grows and develops until, unable to escape, inevitably returns to the beginning of a new cycle. The piece ends with a broad brass coda that returns the audience back to the beginning of yet another cycle, which this time doesn’t continue.

Under consortium exclusivity until December, 2019.