Commissioned by the Georgia State University Percussion Ensemble
Burning Moon is a brief work inspired by the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. During the summer of 2004, I was commissioned by Stuart Gerber, Director of the Georgia State University Percussion Ensemble to write a new piece for his group. Stuart expressed an interest in including the bouzouki, a Greek plucked string instrument, in the instrumentation for the piece. I knew that I wanted to use a Greek folk melody in some way, but it was not until I watched the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Games that the idea for the piece came to me. I was inspired by a Cretan melody used by dancers who performed to energetic drumming amidst flames during the ceremonies. I decided to adapt those percussion rhythms and melody for this piece and cast a solo bouzouki and solo marimba as melodic “dancers” amid driving percussive “flames.” The title of the work was inspired by the setting of the performance at the closing ceremonies in Athens. As the dancers performed in and out of fire, a full moon hung just behind them, shining large and bright in the late summer sky. The flames from the dance floor seemed to be reflected on that gleaming moon. It was a breathtaking moment in time; one I have tried to capture some small way within the small confines of this piece.