My latest latest two compositions for orchestra, Earth, The Sustainer of Life, and Pluto, Guardian of the Underworld, will be premiered by the Charlotte Civic Orchestra, conducted by Geoff Whitehead, on June 7th, 2015 at 3:30pm. The concert features Gustav Holsts’ The Planets and will take place at Sharon United Methodist Church, 4411 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC. Earth and Pluto were written as companion pieces for The Planets. Holst did not include Earth or Pluto in the original suite. Geoff Whitehead called me one day last fall and proposed that I write the additional movements. Naturally, I immediately accepted the challenge. As soon as I hung up the phone I wondered what I was thinking. The Planets is one of the most iconic works of the early 20th century. How could I possibly add anything to this remarkable suite? I began by immersing myself in the Holst and thinking about how the mythology informed his suite. All of Holsts movements have subtitles such as The Bringer of War, Bringer of Peace, etc. Pluto was easy. Pluto, aka Hades, is the mythological god tasked with guarding the underworld, or place of the dead. It was easy to envision drifting beyond Neptune into the void of interplanetary space and suddenly happening upon lonely Pluto. The excellent contrabassoon player for the CCO, Ron Follas, had asked for a solo. What better instrument to represent the grumpy, resentful Pluto sitting alone at the entrance to the underworld. After the contrabassoon solo we drift into space leaving the solar system behind. Earth was more challenging. In Greek mythology the goddess Gaia is the personification of Earth and the mother of all Gods, Titans, Giants, etc. It seemed fitting to stay close to the spirit of the Holst. As such, I settled on Earth, The Sustainer of Life. I hoped to capture the spirit of the Gaia movement of the late 20th century in which the entire earth is seen as one living organism. The music moves from a simple pulse in the piano and gradually builds to a complex layered groove, all life in synchronization and somehow combining to form a complete being. It ends with a consolidation of the harmonic materials into a composite sonority representing the Gaia notion of all life comprising one organism.
Ticket information and details about the concert can be found at the Charlotte Civic Orchestra web site.