Jasmine’s Looking Glass

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for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano and Percussion (1998)
Commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival
Premiere: The Aspen Music Festival by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble – July 1998
Duration: 10 minutes

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Jasmine’s Looking Glass was written for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble in 1998. The idea for this piece came in sporadic bursts of inspiration, which I believe were motivated by fairy-tale associations looming around in my subconscious. The title for this work also came to me in this way, and it was only later that I made a connection with the magical looking glass in Alice in Wonderland through which Alice was able to transport to magical lands.

In this piece, I wanted to capture the idea of transcending reality in brief moments of reverie. I approached this idea through the juxtaposition of two distinct motives. The first motive is very rhythmically driven, orchestrated with registral doublings and percussive attacks suggestive of the hurried pace of every day life. The second motive suggests a more dream-like atmosphere with its soaring wind gestures in upper registers. At the beginning of the work, the first of these two motives tends to dominate but is frequently interrupted by the second, which becomes increasingly developed upon each subsequent interruption. The result of this process is that the second motive (dream-like) comes to dominate and ultimately becomes the basis for the slow middle section of this work. The final section is a kind synthesis of the two ideas, projecting the driven 16ths and scotch-snap gestures (short-long) of the first motive amidst a dream-like atmosphere suggestive of the second.

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