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Orchard, Volume 4 (2018)


  •  bael
  •  carambola
  •  date
  •  fig
  •  horned melon
  •  lemon
  •  mangosteen
  •  nectarine
  •  pomegranate
  •  prickly pear
  •  tangerine


Each of these pieces were originally composed as part of a larger collection of 50 solo piano works, collectively titled Orchard. Each piece in Orchard is named for and inspired by a botanical fruit. This is the fourth of five volumes, sorted by difficulty: Volume 1 is the easiest set, while Volume 4 is the most difficult. Volume 5 consists of only pieces utilizing extended techniques.

The bael tree, which produces bael fruit, is considered one of the sacred trees of Hindus. While this piece is not inspired by Hinduism in a literal sense, the religious nature of the fruit was inspiration to the ethereal and meditative qualities of the music. This work was commissioned by Michael Garcia to be performed on either vibraphone or piano.

carambola was the final piece from Orchard that I composed. Also known as star fruit, carambola features a collection of ascending 5-note chords - like the five points on a star shape. carambola is intended to be a kind of foil to yuzu; they are gesturally similar, yet carambola is not as sparse and has more musical depth. I see this as being symbolic of my own journey when composing Orchard: there is a return to the beginning, yet I am a changed person and a changed composer.

Dates are naturally low in moisture, and as they dehydrate, sugars are pulled to the surface of the fruit making them quite sticky. I imagine in the beginning of date that the keyboard is sticky: the pianist performs a set of chords in the lower register of the instrument, one note at a time, overlapping over one another. This builds over time into a flourishing end.

fig takes on the perishable aspects of its namesake through the form of delicate, polyrhythmic figures and a 1/4-pressed pedal. This results in a not-quite-sustained texture that is meant to evoke the earthy tenderness of the fig.

A horned melon has distinct protrusions (“horns”) on the outside of the fruit which, in the music, is represented by short, loud chords that demarcate the sections of the piece. Between these chords is music that moves and flows in an unpredictable manner: this is the jelly-like flesh of the inside of the horned melon.

E-Na Song commissioned me to compose a piece about her favorite fruit, the lemon, and also asked for it to be a waltz. The waltz in lemon is less straight forward than the typical waltz, beginning with ambiguous music with odd-beat accents, and there is also a bit of dissonance throughout the piece, representing the sourness of lemons.

mangosteen’s musical texture is inspired by the shape of the fruit itself: mangosteen have a bulbous, purple outside and a tangy-sweet flesh. The fruit is highly perishable which is represented in the piece by each musical layer slowing down and becoming quiet over the course of each phrase.

When commissioning this work, Ariadne Antipa asked for a piece that would draw on her deep attachment to Eastern European folk music. She said, “I grew up Greek folk dancing and I adore the vibrancy of the different beat patterns in the odd meters.” nectarine is an extremely short, but dense, piece consisting of only asymmetric meters.

The musical texture of pomegranate is meant to emulate the texture of the fruit: the introductory material of the piece represents the smooth outside of a pomegranate, and as the piece goes on, layers are peeled away to reveal jubilant, pointillistic phrases, representing the edible seeds.

 Prickly pears are covered in fine, hair-like spines that must be removed (or carefully avoided) before safely touching or eating the fruit. What would it be like if the keys of the piano were covered in these spines? That’s what I was thinking about when composing prickly pear: in the left hand, there is a constant stream of notes, as if trying to avoid playing the same note twice; and, in the right hand, prickly staccato notes.

 Jeju-do is an island off the southern coast of South Korea that is known for its citrus groves. In fact, the tangerine orchards are one of the many reasons visitors come to the island. Mijung An asked me to compose a piece about the fruit of Jeju Island.


Orchard - Volume 4

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