Night Rituals, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano

I’m back to work on a new piece for eighth blackbird. This one, entitled Night Rituals is for the full eighth blackbird instrumentation (flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano), and focuses on three pre-Christian Western rituals as its inspiration.

The first movement, “Ch’ab’,” is inspired by a Mayan bloodletting ritual. It is as violent as its subject matter, with a screaming cello and bass clarinet part, and takes the various blood rituals as both dramatic and metaphoric models for the piece.

The second movement, “Samhain,” takes its inspiration from the Celtic ritual occurring at the end of the harvest, which marks the beginning of the long dark winter.  One by one, the instruments walk metaphorically between two giant bonfires, purifying themselves for the coming season as they toss the bones of slaughtered animals into the fire.

The third movement, inspired by the ancient Greek Dionysian Dithyramb, is an explosive and erratic dance, led by a leaping bass clarinet part and driving quasi- Afro-Cuban drums. Musical influences for this movement come primarily from the realms of rock and jazz, and polymetric layering pushes the whole thing forward like a limping, lurching dancing machine.

Featured Recordings

Live Performance by eighth blackbird

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for two alto saxophones, mallet percussion, and piano

live performance by Zach Herchen, Philipp Stäudlin, Ryan Packard, and Aaron Likness, June 26th, 2011

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