Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Alto Sax, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon
I’ve experienced immense pressure to compose in a specific style during my education. That style is heterogenous, elusive, yes somehow restrictive. It lacks an aesthetic definition and instead propagates through words like “development,” “form,” “technique,” and “progress.” I’ve been assured I have the freedom of style, but any deviation from academic standards/trends results in silence from my mentors, or even a gentle bump in the “right” direction. I’ve been told by numerous people that a piece should only do one thing, or that I need to stretch a small amount of material to its extremes. Such intellectual offerings and aforementioned silences have shaped my work, though I recently question if they have shaped me for the best. Has academia, in some ways, stunted my growth as a composer? Does my “freedom” of style preclude construction? In what ways can I satisfy academic standards while still imparting my own forms, sounds, etc.? Does the perceived heightened elevation of classical music inhibit influence from “lower” genres on a deeper level?
I have been pontificating these questions since Elevations’ genesis and, while the work lacks a program or mission, they have consequently infiltrated my writing. Movement one takes a consecrated gesture, the leading tone and V – I cadence (which has historical significance but has since become taboo), and stretches it until the movement’s collapse. Movement two scarifies an imagined hymn through noise. Movement three shirks development. Finally, movement four stylistically and formally explores the commonalities between my favorite genres – classical, punk rock, and swing.