With influences ranging from Carl Sagan to James Blake to Alejandro Viñao, Citadel of the Stars is a beautiful & colorful work for percussion orchestra that will leave you wanting more, long after the final notes.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 13
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 9:05
Player 1 (bells, chimes)
Player 2 (chimes, crotales)
Player 3 (vibraphone 1, bells)
Player 4 (vibraphone 2, medium wine glass)
Player 5 (xylophone, chimes)
Player 6 (marimba 1 [4-oct], large Tibetan singing bowl or wine glass)
Player 7 (marimba 2 [4-oct])
Player 8 (marimba 3 [4.5-oct], China cymbal)
Player 9 (marimba 4 [5-oct])
Player 10 ( timpani, suspended cymbal)
Player 11 (large suspended cymbal, ride cymbal, low cymbal stack, 4 concert toms, large triangle)
Player 12 (tam-tam, large triangle, medium suspended cymbal, medium-high cymbal stack, mark tree, upright bass drum, snare drum, small wine glass)
Player 13 (concert bass drum, sizzle cymbal, medium triangle, medium-large suspended cymbal, piccolo snare drum)
"National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars."
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos
In retrospect, I can easily note three main influences in Citadel of the Stars: my strong affinity for electronic music (recently, the likes of James Blake and Moderat), my deep admiration for the music of Alejandro Viñao (notably his use of multiple time in simultaneous voices), and my profound respect for Carl Sagan, which has grown significantly in recent years. This piece is a sort of homage to him and those who continuously search and explore the marvels of the universe.
Although this piece does not follow any specific formal structure, a few themes and motifs connect the five main sections, presented as quasi-variations rather than through programmatic means. Most notably, I have taken Sagan’s last name and exploited it for various uses including five sections for its five letters as well as its pitch-collection (S, fixed do-si/Bb; A, A natural; G, G natural; A, A natural; N, n for variable). Furthermore, an extensive use of echo is apparent throughout as my musical interpretation for the Einsteinian laws of gravitational relativity. Lastly, I’ve applied instances of “rhythmic curves” between various instruments and the sonic layers they create, inspired by the wormhole scene in Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. Put simply, a wormhole bends space-time and “distorts” our reality. I’ve lightly interpreted this into a rhythmic motive, occasionally blending with echo effects and dissipating melodic cells throughout the piece.
Citadel of the Stars was commissioned by Dr. Brian A. West and the TCU Percussion Orchestra.