Ruins Upon Ruins

Medium: Orchestral

Picc, 2 Fl (2=Picc), 2 Ob, EH, E-flat Cl, 2 B-flat Cl, 2 Bsn, Cbsn / 4 Hn, 3 C Tr, 2 Ttbn, Btbn, Tba / Timp, 3 Perc / Hp /

In writing Ruins Upon Ruins, I set about creating a form that would best represent the creation/destruction cycle, but would also provide a way of building on top of exisiting musical structures. I decided to find a way of creating a city of music from scratch, then systematically destroying it. In this way, I could build a new city in a similar way on top of the old one. As such, I needed to come up with symbols to describe creation and destruction in order to make this process meaningful. The concept of creation I associated with energetic music, upward gestures, fanfares, symmetrical structures, and most importantly a “tessellation” motive in the clarinets that begins each creation cycle (a nod to the mosaics of ancient cities). With destruction, I assigned often opposite features: downward gestures, slower tempi, low, muddy percussive figures, asymmetry. From time to time, fragments of the ruined city would show up in a weakened form.

Ruins Upon Ruins was written as part of the Alexander Zemlinsky Composition Prize and was premiered by the Cincinnati Conservatory Concert Orchestra under Aik Khai Pung.



Commissioned by

Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music

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