for symphony orchestra; 11′ (2000)
performed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Symphony Orchestra, directed by David Becker:
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“Clinging Fire” was written in my first year as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for the UW Symphony’s composition competition. The guidelines for the competition asked that pieces written show off what the orchestra can do, and that every musician have an interesting part to play. I took those guidelines to the extreme, and wrote “Clinging Fire,” a piece that, in its 11 brief minutes, gives every instrument in the orchestra a featured solo moment, including a feature for string quartet made of the first-chair string players. It also has the orchestra play in a huge number of contrasting moods, passes motivic material around between sections and between musical styles, and generally tries to do everything an orchestra is capable of in one overstuffed piece of music. While “Clinging Fire” is certainly a bit over-ambitious and too flashy in its way, I’m also very fond of it, and still think warmly of how effective it was in concert. I hope to hear it in concert again!