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Blitz  for Orchestra  [5 minutes]

Performed by the USC Thornton Symphony with Donald Crockett (Conductor) at Bovard Auditorium.

Instrumentation:  Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, Percussion, Marimba, Harp, Piano, & Strings.

Year Composed:  2000

Program Notes:  

Blitz, is a short and frantic piece that came about as a reaction to living in a fast-paced urban society.  Driving through traffic past corporate buildings, oil refineries, and Hollywood luxury, we are surrounded by the constant bombardment of media, advertisements, and billboards for the latest attractions.  Blitz attempts to capture the information-age flash and dazzle along with the industrial crash and clatter of everyday life in Los Angeles.

The piece consists of a struggle between the two whole-tone scales set a half-step apart (one built off of the pitch F and the other off of the pitch D).  Each scale tries to maintain all consonant intervals, yet, when heard simultaneously, they create chromatic and dissonant clusters.  The resulting chromatic scale makes some sparing appearances, but the whole-tone clusters maintain themselves in groups among families of instruments.  This struggle also plays out in the motives that run concurrently but are displaced by small beat measurements so that they do not line up precisely.  Glissandi in the strings, clarinets, and flexatone act as a loose thread that ties the battling harmonies together by sounding every pitch.

The main descending motive that is heard in the woodwinds after the opening “hit” contains a struggle within itself.  A four-note cluster (encompassing a tritone) continuously descends by a minor third, which outlines the most important intervals throughout the piece (major third, tritone, and minor third).  The motive later elongates and inverts itself to create a broad and sweeping ascending theme to contrast the quick descents.

An opening rhythmic motive of four consecutive eighth-notes appears throughout Blitz as a pervasive force pushing everything along.  The struggling harmonies, fighting motives, and driving rhythms all culminate in a grand explosion of long-awaited serenity at measure 133 (roughly the golden section), where everything finally falls into place.  The major thirds of the whole-tone clusters pair up with the opposing clusters a minor third away, finding a balance in the major seventh chord.  This moment of bliss is short-lived, though, as the driving rhythm begins to reclaim control and throws the opposing clusters back into motion.  The whole-tone scale built off of F presses forward in the high register, rhythmically tossing back and forth between the woodwinds and strings, while the D whole-tone scale displays strength in the low instruments.  With a bombastic display, all of these forces drive to the end, taking one last breath before violently releasing their final shout. 

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