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1996 ASCAP/Rudolf Nissim Composition Competition - Honorable Mention
Written in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree - Cleveland Institute of Music & Case Western Reserve University.
The title of Three Pieces of Time is taken from an interview given by the late actor, Jimmy Stewart. In the interview, Mr. Stewart expressed a view of the motion picture as a “piece of time.” Music also exists in time. Anyone who listens to any piece of music also moves through time with that piece of music. Thus, the title of the work is meant to draw attention to a composer’s ability to not only manipulate sound materials but also time itself.
Although no particular program is intended for each of the three movements, each “piece of time” has a distinct character. The first movement makes use of Greek folk dance rhythms. The most pronounced of these is the kalamatiano, a dance in 7/8 meter from the Peloponesian region of Greece.
All of the material in the second movement is derived from the opening twenty measures. Through manipulations of the opening motivic material and a gradual thickening of texture, the movement reaches a fortissimo climax involving the entire orchestra. The true goal of the movement, however, is reached right after this “climax” as the entire string section slowly spreads itself apart and comes to rest on a very quiet cluster of pitches stretching over six octaves. This stasis of activity serves as a balance between the very active natures of the first and third movements.
The third movement begins without pause. Although not as rhythmically varied as the first movement, it achieves a level of excitement through a continual blur of virtuoso playing. There is also an alternation in texture between densely scored counterpoint at a loud volume and more sparsely orchestrated sections at a much lower dynamic level. These sections are compressed with each repetition until the piece reaches its unexpected conclusion.