Princeton New Jersey, Todd Nichols, Conductor In Memory of Patricia Page Van Abs
Premiers June 9, 2018 by the Eastern Wind Symphony,
Todd Nichols Conducting, Princeton University, New Jersey.
Premiers July, 2018, The Musashino Academia,
Ray E. Cramer Conducting, Tokyo, Japan.
Performance October 23, 2018 by the University of North Texas Symphonic Band,
Dennis Fisher Conducting, Denton, Texas.
I. Sun in C
Before composing “Sun” I researched all the science I could concerning the sun's age, projected life span, atomic makeup, flares, and other interesting facts. Formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago and with approximately that many years left, the sun is a radioactive middle aged ball of hot plasma comprised of 73% hydrogen and 25% helium. Once the sun's hydrogen fusion core diminishes to a critical level, the sun will go from being a classified G-type star referred to as a yellow dwarf to being a Red Giant and will render Earth uninhabitable roughly 5 billion years from now.
The opening of “Sun” actively describes the dynamo process of constant motion in and on the sun. Broken motifs are stated, changed, repeated and grow with strength of numbers and dynamics for 59 quickly paced measures ending in the first sunrise witnessed by earth represented by a huge open fifth C chord which is neither major or minor as there are no 3rds. In my mind, I did not see the sun as good or evil – just existing – thus no major or minor overtones. The middle section of “Sun” depicts the sun more as a sentient being with the music showing the loneliness of floating in space for billions of years; the monotony and perhaps the unavoidable onset of insanity and depression such existence would impose on a human as a soulless planet. The sun is then musically devoured by the chemical reactions and builds back up into another huge chord, but this chord is a C Major chord, representing the joy of life that the Earth enjoys, for without the sun, life on earth would not exist. After that chord the music captures the magnificent power of the sun with huge bold chords surrounded by an arsenal of 32nd notes in the woodwinds and keyboards representing the artificial life of the sun and is meant to sound like the artificial synthesized music sounds and textures of the late 1980- 1990's electronic instruments.
The miracle of the sun ends the work with another, final massive C Major chord.
*As a side note, when I was actively composing and trying to create the feel of oppressive heat, I would always picture in my mind the desert scenes from “Lawrence of Arabia.” I always felt like that movie captured the power of the unrelenting sun and heat better than any other motion picture.*