Materia Prima (2023) for Orchestra


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Duration: 24 minutes

Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra and was premiered on March 16, 2023 by Daniela Candillari and the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

Program Notes:

Materia Prima draws inspiration from the mythological motif of the cosmic ocean. This motif, which can be found in the creation stories of a strikingly wide variety of cultures and religions, describes a cosmic ocean of primordial, often chaotic waters from which the universe was created. The title, Materia Prima (Latin for prime, or original matter) refers to the substance viewed as the material cause of the universe.

There are two musical elements that form my piece, sustained sounds and brief impulses. The impulses act as drops of water in a still, vast sea, creating waves of activity that disrupt the stability of the sustained material. The harmonic structure of the piece is built upon a similar opposition, one between the harmonic series of a low B-flat and the open strings of the string instruments, particularly the open A – the note from which the entire piece emerges. The piece unfolds through gradual processes of transformation as it attempts to reconcile these opposing materials. At its core, Materia Prima strives to find serene spaces in a turbulent and chaotic world.