Breathe (2015) 8 minutes
For Flute Choir
For 8 flutes. Piccolo, 3 flutes, alto flute, bass flute, and contrabass flute.
Commissioned by the Upper Midwest Flute Association.
Premiered at Sundin Music Hall in St. Paul, MN in April 2015.
I’m interested in the sound of an ensemble made up of multiples of the same instrument. It creates the illusion that it is all one giant instrument played by a multitude of people. I was very excited when I was asked to write Breathe for the Upper Mid West Flute Association, because I would get to write for a flute ensemble for the second time.
My first piece for flute ensemble Caracas Counterpoint is a fun, energetic, rambunctious kind of a piece. It is a fifteen-minute long portrait of my birth city in all of its chaos, beauty and mystery. I knew that for Breathe I wanted to create something different, a more subtle, gentler piece. After a particularly inspiring performance of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2 by the Minnesota Orchestra, I felt that I wanted to capture some aspects of Ravel’s language in my new piece. The beautifully shimmering woodwind textures at the beginning of the Suite were the inspiration for the opening of Breathe. A cloud of sound is gradually built out of small, simple patterns in the flutes, while the piccolo introduces a long, singing melody that will return several times throughout the piece, each time in a slightly different garb. Soon after this melody comes to a close, a new idea begins to assert itself. This idea is syncopated, rhythmic and seems to want to get things moving at a different pace. Eventually it succeeds and we move away from the clouds of the opening and into a more rhythmic and driving section. This section in turn gives way to a kind of chant-like, simple statement, that goes through a series of statements before the opening melody returns. From here on out, the three different ideas take turns and vie for attention, alternating between long, melodious lines and shorter rhythmic bursts. This alternation eventually builds to an exciting conclusion as the ideas fly in and out of focus.
Live recording from premiere at Upper MidWest Flute Association's Flute Fest (April 2015)
Sarah Jackson, Piccolo (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Julia Bogorad-Kogan, Flute (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra)
Alicia McQuerrey, Flute (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra)
Barb Leibundguth, Flute (Gustavus Adolphus College)
Catherine Ramirez, Flute (St. Olaf College)
Greg Milliren, Alto Flute (Minnesota Orchestra)
Trudi Anderson, Bass Flute (Augsburg College)
Adam Kuenzel, Contrabass Flute (Minnesota Orchestra)