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PROGRAM NOTES by the composer

Atomic Turquoise for Flute, C Trumpet, and Harp


Two recurring FAQs for this piece are "Why did you write for that odd combination of instruments?" and "What's the title about?" Both answers come from optimism through the 2020 quarantine.

I'm fortunate to enjoy a long friendship with the elegantly intrepid flutist Angela Massey, who at that time was preparing to marry Kris Marshall, the trumpet player in her Astralis Chamber Ensemble. I was planning a wedding gift for them, perhaps the flute/trumpet equivalent of an operatic love duet, when Angela coincidentally asked if Astralis could commission me to write a trio for flute, trumpet, and harp, as a program opener for their 2021-22 concert tours.

At first the uncommon instrumentation seemed like a red flag for future performances beyond the commissioners, especially with an open-ended pandemic curtailing all activities. But it's a beautiful sonority, and it's always a delight to work with Angela Massey. We agreed this would be both a wedding present and also a consortium commission, imbued with optimism both in the music and in our determination to get co-commissioners and performance dates as soon as public performances resumed. ATOMIC TURQUOISE is a 7-minute giddy fast-slow-fast overture, with a love duet as the middle section.

During the stay-home year, I was fascinated by how to think differently and make the best of this low-profile hiatus, and how to stay fresh and creative in spirit. Inspired by the long season of no haircuts or onstage appearances, I decided now's my best chance to stop gazing vicariously at other people's wild hair colors and try it myself. Online browsing led me to a vivacious color called Atomic Turquoise, and I had my fun for a few months.

I've often jokingly said of any odd phrase, "that would make a good name for a piece" -- and now I stopped and actually thought about it. This little trio has gushing energy, rich sensual and impressionistic beauty, and "atomic turquoise" does fit those attributes.

An alternate scoring for Flute, Viola, and Harp will be available in 2022.


last updated October 9, 2021