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Alchemy in Silent Spaces (wind ensemble)

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  • Year(s)

    2000 - 2001

  • Difficulty


  • Duration

    22:00 min

  • Perusal Score


  • Errata




Movement Title(s):

I. the logic of all my dreams
II. points of attraction
III. the still point of destruction

This is a large-scale three-movement piece, with the first and third movements existing as modular works, available for performance separately. The first movement is drawn from music I wrote as an undergraduate while studying with Francis McBeth. The opening is sparse, utilizing mallet percussion, harp, and piano to create a floating sense of timelessness. This gradually builds over several minutes, ultimately launching itself into a grandiose, warm, harmonically consonant blanket of sound, after which it concludes with a single chord repeated four times at pianissimo. The music is for the most part delicate and quiet, relying on silence and space to create drama, rather than the relentless rhythmic energy common to many of my other works.

The second movement opens with solo flute, built from a melodic motive from movement i. The music again opens slowly, gradually gaining momentum, but at a faster pace than in the first movement. The music spirals upward and outward, but instead of reaching a plateau, winds itself out and comes to a grinding halt in the upper range of the ensemble. Five brief, solemn chords conclude the movement, which immediately erupts into the still point of destruction.

The third movement is built from an intervallic construction found in the first two. The music is of unceasing, but also unsettling, motion, propelled by a driving ostinato which is repeatedly interrupted by bittersweet moments of lyricism, all the while pushing toward an unforgiving climax.

There is no explicit narrative to the piece, though many particular elements do have personal quasi-biographical significance. Ultimately, this is music of both personal and musical transformation.

Commissioned by: Ray Cramer and Indiana University


Premiere of mvt. I: 31 October, 2000
Premiere of mvts. II and III: 4 March, 2001
by the Indiana University Wind Ensemble, Ray Cramer, cond.

Technical Info

View Instrumentation List

Alchemy in Silent Spaces is better suited for a large concert band than a one-on-a-part wind ensemble. In any case, please observe the minimum players required for certain parts, as outlined below.

Flute 1
Flute 2-3
Oboe 1-2
English Horn
Bassoon 1-2
Eb Clarinet (Mvt. ii. only)
Bb Clarinet 1 (2 players, minimum)
Bb Clarinet 2 (2 players, minimum)
Bb Clarinet 3 (2 players, minimum)
Alto Clarinet (required for Mvt. ii., optional part provided for Mvt. III.)
Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone 1-2
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone

Horn in F 1,3
Horn in F 2,4
Bb Trumpet 1 (2 players required for Mvt. iii.)
Bb Trumpet 2
Bb Trumpet 3
Trombone 1 (2 players, minimum)
Trombone 2
Trombone 3 (Bass)
Euphonium 1-2
Tuba 1-2
Contrabass (required for Mvts. i. and ii., optional for Mvt. iii.)

Harp (required for Mvts. i. and ii., optional for Mvt. iii.)
Piano (required for all Mvts.)

Mvt. I.:
Perc. 1 (Glockenspiel / Marimba)
Perc. 2 (Crotales)
Perc. 3 (Vibraphone)
Perc. 4 (Mark Tree, Tam-tam)
Perc. 5 (Sus. Cymbal, Bass Drum)

Mvt. II.:
Perc. 1 (Crotales)
Perc. 2 (Marimba, Chimes)
Perc. 3 (Glockenspiel)
Perc. 4 (Vibraphone)
Perc. 5 (Sus. Cymbal, Bass Drum)

Mvt. III.:
Perc. 1 (Xylophone / Vibraphone)
Perc. 2 (Marimba)
Perc. 3 (Bass Drum)