Photo: Greenleaves, Petworth, UK, June 2014
Grounds, for String Orchestra (2014)
(String Ensemble: min. 16, 14, 12, 10, 8)
Total duration ca. 11'30"
Single movement work
Listen to a recording of this work on Spotify
Recorded by Mikel Toms & the Brno
Philharmonic Orchestra, July 2015
Listen to a performance of this work on YouTube
Performed by Alan Buxbaum & the Peabody
Symphony Orchestra, February 2017
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The title of the work, Grounds, touches several different points of reference, some musical, some poetic, some personal. ‘Ground Bass’ forms such as the Passacaglia and the Chaconne feature contrapuntal interaction with recurring or ostinato bass-lines, and in its unfolding Grounds makes use of, or recalls, the ‘Ground Bass’ idea in several places. In a more evocative sense, the pastoral associations of the title suggest a journey through an aural landscape, with particular motivic or gestural figures serving as landmarks, rather than sections of a conventional form, which we may recognize as we pass by a second time or double back. My own personal overlay on this more imagistic approach to Grounds is my experience spending a too-brief time in West Sussex visiting the British painter John Hitchens, whose work and whose father’s work has inspired some of my compositions, and his wife ‘Rosy.’ My ambulatory experience of the vast grounds of Greenleaves (the site of John’s studio) and Petworth House, the surrounding countryside, and Bignor Hill, serve as geographical touchstones for this piece - though like many of John Hitchens’s own paintings, the resultant creation is itself a landscape of abstraction. For their hospitality during my visit and their continued friendship, this work is dedicated with love to John and ‘Rosy.’ This work was recorded by Mikel Toms and the Brno Philharmonic for “Orchestral Masters Vol. 3” produced by Ablaze Records. It was the winner of the 2016 Peabody Conservatory Macht Orchestral Composition Competition.