Sierra Nevada: Range of Light (1994)

Instrumentation: horn choir (6 parts)

Duration: 8:00

Written for the Wichita State University Horn Choir

Premiered at the International Horn Society Conference; University of Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; May 30, 1994.

Notes: From the beginning of my composition career, nature imagery, though rarely showing up overtly in the music, has been an important inspiration for me. When considering a composition for horn choir, I was struck by the image of great mountains. California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range is unique in that it is composed of white granite, explaining why these mountains were referred to by John Muir as the “Range of Light.” My basic image for this composition, then, was that of the haunting, noble horn sound echoing off the sheer walls of Yosemite Valley; thus, various echoing effects are employed within the horn ensemble.
Tonally, the piece is in F Major/minor, flavored with a whole-tone (or French Augmented Sixth) sound. The middle section depends greatly on the simultaneous use of the major and minor forms of a triad. The surface of the music, particularly of the outer sections, uses whole-tone elements.

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