ensemble string orchestra
duration 12 minutes
written winter 2015
commissioned by Town Hall Seattle
premièred June 27, 2015, Town Hall, Seattle, WA
published by Andres & Sons Bakery
Recently, I’ve started to see contrast for its own sake as something best avoided; I’d rather listen to music that gnaws every last scrap of meat off of one bone. Variety will eventually come, I think, if the material’s good, and it will feel earned rather than obligatory.
Running Theme, then, is a proof of concept. It’s a 12-minute romp for string orchestra, entirely based on the interval of a fifth broken over a dotted rhythm. The music flows into three informal sections, not quite movements. A spare and athletic opening gradually accrues harmonic complexity, weighing down its momentum. The second leaps forward again, as if launched forward by this drawn tension—a galloping bass hocket underscoring volleys of high arpeggios. After reaching a series of irreconcilable harmonic confrontations, the music slows its pace of modulation and quickens its rhythmic pulse simultaneously, before dissolving in a ghostly echo of the opening motto.
performers Town Music, SYSO Musicians, Joshua Roman, conductor