Program Notes



It is a painful reality of being a composer that you risk investing all this time to conjure forth a new piece only to have it put on a shelf after the premiere. It is a nice part of my job that I have the ability to breathe new life into works that could use a little nudge, like seeing Bambi wobble on his skinny legs and giving him a gentle push. Ensemble Epomeo performed the premiere with James Schlefer last year in New York and I am delighted to play it again. The music feels both exotic yet strangely familiar. Victoria Bond writes:

Rashōmon was adapted from an anonymous 12th Century collection of Japanese folk tales. The immense Rashōmon entry gate in Kyoto, 100 feet long and 30 feet high, was built in 789 AD when Kyoto was the seat of the Japanese Empire and the Samurai code of conduct reigned supreme. By the 12th century (when this story take place), the once grand portal to the city had seen better days and developed a reputation as a hideout for criminals.

The story tells of a murder witnessed by a group of people who have gathered under the dilapidated Rashōmon gate to escape the rain. All of their accounts of the crime differ radically, but we are never told which account is the truth. The form of the story is intrinsically musical, being a theme and variations, but the emotional context gives this classical form a new perspective. I divided the work into four movements, and within the larger theme and variations, each movement has its own form:

I. The Gate –Theme
II. The Murder: A Crime of Violence – Variations
III. The Murder: A Cold Calculation – Passacaglia
IV. The Murder: A Crime of Passion – Rondo

Notes by the composer