mixed chamber ensemble (2016)
Performed by The GVSU New Music Ensemble.
Vixen is available on Dawn Chorus by The GVSU New Music Ensemble. (Innova Recordings)
clarinet in Bb
Duration: 6 minutes
Commissioned by: Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble with support from The National Endowment for the Arts
Premiere: July 1-9, 2016
GVSU New Music Ensemble at Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park
Vixen was commissioned by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble for its National Parks Project, with support from The National Endowment for the Arts. During the early planning stages for this music, which is based on Yellowstone National Park, I came across the Yellowstone Sound Library, a wonderful online resource that offers a wide range of field recordings taken throughout the park. I was especially drawn to the sounds of the various geysers, and the Vixen geyser in particular caught my ears because of its interesting eruption pattern. It has a very rhythmic, punchy explosion, with a surprisingly mellow, gurgling finish as the water it just spewed out drains back into its crater. I decided to make the shape of the eruption into the form of the musical composition—the first three-quarters of the piece have a driving, relentless pulse punctuated with fits and starts, and then the rhythmic material slams to halt, replaced by gently overlapping layers of extended tones and bubbling trills that slowly disappear into thin air. Of course it was impossible to resist using the name Vixen, which is perfect given the geyser’s unpredictable, spitfire disposition!