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Five Images
for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, and cello

  1. Still Life with Picasso (Roy Lichtenstein)
  2. White on White (Robert Irwin)
  3. The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (Salvador Dali)
  4. Shades of Night Descending (Salvador Dali)
  5. In the Black Square (Vasily Kandinsky)

Notes on the Composition:

I have always been fascinated by the correlation between music and painting. Each movement of Five Images is based on a different painting by a different artist. Rather than try to depict the painting in musical terms, I found that the material for each movement came from a very personal reaction to the painting. The five movements of the work literally frame its emotional core.

Still Life with Picasso

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

Shades of Night Descending

In the Black Square

Still Life with Picasso, based on the Roy Lichtenstein painting of the same title, humorously combines atonal technique with blatant rock and roll music. White on White is a direct emotional response to seeing Robert Irwin's Untitled (1967) painting. From a distance, the Irwin painting appears to be completely blank, but it is a complex arrangement of colored shapes, creating an optical illusion of white noise.

In an earlier piece, Winter Octet, I had based the opening movement on the famous Salvador Dali work, The Persistence of Memory, known for its ant-infested melting clocks. For Five Images, Dali's painted sequel, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, literally became the emotional sequel for the music. The crash of TWA Flight 800 and the Olympic Park bombing directly affected the composition of this movement. The emotional roots of Five Images come to the forefront in the form of the solo cello.

The fourth movement comes from another desolate painting by Dali, Shades of Night Descending. The quasi-passacaglia motion in this movement allows the continuation of the melodic outpouring of the third movement. However, any optimism that might have remained is lost in the corruption of the dark corners of the Dali painting.

Based on the Kandinsky painting In the Black Square, the final movement of the piece presents twisted and jagged versions of the melodic and harmonic motives of the piece. These gestures attempt to break free of the relentless driving force, ultimately becoming unified as a single more powerful entity.

Named the regional and national winner of the Society of Composers student composition competition, Five Images has been performed by the Kansas City NewEar Contemporary Music Ensemble (1997), by the New York New Music Ensemble at the California State University Summer Arts Festival (1997), by members of Continuum and the Debussy Trio at the Oregon Festival of American Music (1997), by the USC Contemporary Music Ensemble (1997), by the Arizona State University (2001) and at the Society of Composers National Convention by the Indiana New Music Group (1998).

∞ Listen to Five Images
  1. Still Life with Picasso (2:27, 3.4 MB)
  2. White on White (6:36, 9.1 MB)
  3. The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (5:19, 7.3 MB)
  4. Shades of Night Descending (5:01, 6.9 MB)
  5. In the Black Square (3:54, 5.4 MB)

Performance by the USC Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Donald Crockett. Tracks are in MP3 format compressed at 192 kb/sec.

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