I’m thrilled to be joining Symphony Number One in my new role as Composer-In-Residence for the 2017-2018 season. I’ve admired their mission since their inception, and it’s great to be aboard. I would like to thank Jordan Randall Smith and the administrative team for this significant opportunity. We have a lot of great projects in the works and I’m looking forward to creating some memorable musical experiences in the coming year.
My first work for this season is Cornerstone, based on the contents of the 1815 time capsule discovered inside the cornerstone of the original Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, Baltimore. The piece begins with an introduction depicting the discovery and opening of the cornerstone, which revealed a beautifully carved panel of the stonemasons and stone carvers. The work continues by telling the stories of the 3 glass jars found inside the cornerstone.
Jar 1 contained items representing the likeness of Washington including an embossed miniature profile of Washington, a book wrapped in paper titled "Washington's Legacy", coins, and medals.
Symphony Number One returns on August 23 to Mount Vernon Place for "Summer in the Squares: Symphony Number One"
Attached to the outside of Jar 2 was a newspaper folded open to the Declaration of Independence. To symbolize the finding I included quotes from my work "Declaration" based on this historic text. This section represents the colonist's struggle for independence. It is composed in the tonal center of C for Edward Coale who likely assembled the jar. Inside the jar was a Bible printed in tiny "diamond type." I represent this with touch 4th harmonics in the violin, which are notated as diamond note heads. The music of this section depicts the Bible, its tiny size, and the advances in technology that allowed them to put an entire book in a jar.
The final jar contained a newspaper with a detailed account of the laying of the cornerstone. I wanted to capture the grandness and joy of the event, which included an estimated 25,000-30,000 people in attendance. The account stated, "The evening sky was beautiful and bespangled by rockets…" A band performed at the ceremony, so I intended the end of the piece to be somewhat reminiscent of patriotic band music, but in a more modern context.
You can hear a MIDI realization of my piece below.
I’ll be in attendance for the premiere of Cornerstone on August 23 at Mount Vernon Place, which is the site of the Washington Monument. I greatly value interacting with audience members at my performances, so please come up and say hello!