Rainbows, Halos, Glories (2009)
When our parents died, my brother and I inherited a house full of things left from lives well-lived. Our father had been a visual artist and amateur naturalist, and our mother a poet, so in addition to the dishes, furniture, family photos, tools and television, we also had over 400 of my father's art works, an enormous and wide-ranging library, every letter ever written to my mother, and oddities like a pickled bat in a jar and a box of coyote bones. All this had to be sorted, sold, given away, or stored--it was a mammoth task and emotionally exhausting, but finally only a few things remained and the house was put up for sale. When I left the house where we had grown up for the last time, I turned on our old radio and place a picture of my father in front of it. As I walked out the door, I left behind the strains of Chopin's Etude No. 1 in C major echoing through the empty house. I was so moved by the experience that I knew I must do something creative with the Chopin.
Years later, Rainbows, Halos, Glories was composed through looping, multitracking, and filtering a recording of that work. The original sound source is a digital recording which I duplicated in five cycles. First the piece is played thirty-two times in near but not exact synchronization, then 64, 128, 256, and finally 512 pianos play the Chopin, each with its own virtual location in the stereo space. The sweep of Chopin's continuous arpeggiation, makes a striking natural filter sweep from low to high and back again when multiplied so massively. I have enhanced this through selective filtering, or removal of parts of the combined piano sounds--there is no other processing, no synthesizers or computer-created sounds, nothing added other than the multiple near-simultaneous copies of the same performance.
Rainbows, Halos, Glories was premiered at the Guzzetta Recital Hall of the University of Akron on the 11th Annual Akron New Music Festival on March 30, 2011.