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Plum Blossom Warm Gentle Wind Shimmering Stillness (for Bass Trombone and Ensemble)

  • Author(s): Levis, Jason L.
  • Advisor(s): Cox, Cindy
  • et al.
Abstract

Plum Blossom Warm Gentle Wind Shimmering Stillness is a composition for solo bass trombone and accompanying ensemble. It is in six movements and is approximately 12 minutes long. The piece is dedicated to my grandfathers Benjamin A. Levis, and Harbert S. Gregory, who have passed away in recent years. I initially began work on concepts for the composition while studying with Professor John Thow, and then with Professor Jorge Liderman, but put it away after their untimely passing. Movement four is dedicated to both of them. The composition was written for my good friend and unparalleled bass trombonist, Marc Bolin.

The title reflects my interest in haiku, and the possibility of containing in a brief statement, a moment of total clarity and harmony. While reflecting on Professor Thow's passing, sitting on my front porch, watching the blooming plum tree in front of my house shake and stir ever so gently when the wind would pick up, I experienced one of these moments of deep quietude. Even as the title is not a haiku in its traditional form, it contains a moment for me where something brief and subtle can have a sudden impact and lasting resonance. Even though the composition is inspired by this moment, it is not an impressionistic, sonic image of the natural world. Rather, it is a metaphor for the complex relationships that make up our human experience, the impact those relationships have on us, and the lasting effects and reverberations they create.

The work employs a myriad of extended techniques, engendering layers of timbral commonality. This allows the ensemble to fuse into blended "meta-instruments" and magnify the sonic landscape of the bass trombone. The composition is influenced by my interest in the sometimes antagonistic aims of post-spectral harmony and orchestration, self-similarity modeling of the new complexity school, and large-scale architecture in improvisation.

The instrumentation for Plum Blossom Warm Gentle Wind Shimmering Stillness is bass trombone, four percussionists, piano, two violins, viola, violoncello, and contrabass.

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