Verses from the Thicket (2014, 2016)
Composed for the Sam Houston State University Wind Ensemble with support from Dr. Matthew McInturf. Premiered April 2017, Jeffrey Summers, conductor. Dedicated to Dr. Barry W. Johnson. Finalist for American Prize.
"Verses from the Thicket" is a fantasia on the natural sounds, the landscape and the folk culture of the Big Thicket in eastern Texas. Just as the dense tangle of the thicket and the boughs heavy laden with pine straw and twisted vines here and there yield to cool creeks or grassy coastal plains, the texture of this work alternates between lean chamber textures and large forces.
Tunes of folk ballads from the Big Thicket are woven into the fabric of the piece, occasionally coming into focus with rich ornamentation and heterophony, then dissolving away into post-tonal refractions of material: in the tradition of the great Southern novelists and poets, the approach is more psychological than overtly realist. The antiphonal orchestration was initially inspired by the "Fantasia for Double Orchestra" by British composer Simon Bainbridge and "Voci" for viola and two orchestras by Luciano Berio.
This work was developed in true collaboration and experimentation with Dr. Matthew McInturf and the Sam Houston State University Wind Ensemble in a series of "laboratory" reading sessions. "Verses from the Thicket" is dedicated to Dr. Barry W. Johnson, formerly conductor of the Lamar State University Wind Ensemble, for his support and encouragement in my earliest endeavors.