There are probably as many sources of compositional inspiration as there are composers: nature walks, prayer and meditation, science and mathematics, a strict daily schedule, or even a looming deadline. For me, live performance of music (whether I’m performing or listening) is almost always the spark of my inspiration. In the case of In the Time Before, it was a particularly energetic live performance of Steve Reich’s Double Sextet by the Bang on a Can All-Stars which did the job. During my drive home from that November, 2010, concert, I began thinking about writing a new piece. I stayed up most of the night scribbling down ideas, and a month later, it was finished.
As is also frequently my habit, for source material I returned to material used in an earlier piece which I felt I had not yet fully explored: in this case, part of a short work for organ I had completed earlier that summer. The result is a one-movement sextet written in “elaboration” form, a form I developed many years ago, in which I take a short piece or section of a piece of music and stretch it into a longer work, applying various transformational processes to the original material. In the case of In the Time Before, each of the original 21 chords of the organ piece becomes the tonal center of a section of the new work, with motivic material drawn from the original work as well.
In the Time Before was premiered on July 16, 2017, at Listen Local Concerts in Kensington, MD, by: Amy Thomas, flute; Phyllis Crossen-Richardson, clarinet; Kunie DeVorkin, violin; Taka Ariga, cello; Rich O'Meara, vibraphone; and Scott Pender, piano.
In the Time Before
A recording of In the Time Before is available on the Navona Records album Lock & Key.
In the Time Before
Recording session November 30, 2011 with the Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Players in Olomouc, Czech Republic.