Piece for Flute, Trumpet and String Quartet

Piece for Flute, Trumpet and String Quartet (2015)
Approximate duration: 16 minutes

Movement 1 is MIDI. Movement 2 is a recording of a rehearsal.


The piece was composed for two composer’s workshops that I attended in the summer of 2015. Each movement was premiered in a different city, the first in Lucca, the second in Siena. The first was composed before arriving to Italy. The 2nd had a rough draft before arriving, but was mostly completed in Siena.

While in Siena, a major local event, il Palio, was taking place. This horse race occurs twice per year and dates back to the 16th century. It is a big deal to the residents, with pageantry, parades and excuses to practice rivalries. Around the event is a folk tune that everyone sings. I incorporated this tune into my piece in two places: the 8th note strikes which begin early on, and arrive a 1/4 note sooner each time, thus making the melody imperceivable; and later with the trumpet and flute, this time more obvious but still somewhat fractured.

The first movement, Lucca, treats a variety of different ideas in a form that I have never encountered before, but which serves the composition well. These ideas are presented by each individual instrument, and sometimes repeated in other instruments later. The ideas are repeated, and having different durations, create varying contrapuntal effects with the other ideas. I also had the mindset of separating the string quartet from the flute and trumpet, and creating a kind of duet between the quartet as a unit and the flute and trumpet as the other unit. The two units present seeming contrasting material which finds its way to the counterpart unit at times.

The second movement, il Palio, besides the folk melody, uses a few different ideas, including a 12-tone matrix, which are developed in different ways, and presented in different combinations of instruments. There is less of a separation between the two groups, and more interaction and equality during parts of the movement. The piece explores some interesting textures with the strings, and use of dynamic contrast.

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