Aston Magna (2014)
Small Ensemble, 12'
Commissioned by Lee Elman to celebrate the Aston Magna Estate, for world premiere performances by Aston Magna Music Festival on July 17, 18 and 19, 2014.
Aston Magna was written to celebrate the history of the house and estate of the same name in Great Barrington, MA. The piece unfolds over five movements, thxe outer two being mirror images of one another. The first movement focuses on the grove of trees to the right of the house: a pruned, spiritual environment. The second movement relates to the studio, where I imagine Albert Spalding practiced; here, I tried to capture the rigors of practice rather than the elegance of performance — the music stops and starts, circles back on itself, and repeats difficult phrases. The third movement takes place in the neo-classical “architecture” around the pool: geometric phrases and solid grounding from the viola da gamba underpins simple phrases from the second violin: a solo swimmer at night looking at the sky. The fourth movement brings us into the convivial and friendly environment of the living room of the house: a traditional duet with casual accompaniment. The fifth movement brings us back to the grove of trees, with a slightly more winsome presence from the viola da gamba.