For string orchestra, harp, keyboards (synthesizer and celesta) and 6 percussion.
Duration: c. 15 min.
First Performance: 8 February 2017, Concertgebouw Amsterdam. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert.

Program Note

Boundless was commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, who requested a homage to Leonard Bernstein (anticipating the centennial of the great composer/conductor’s birth) that could be programmed alongside L.B.’s Serenade for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion. As I have always admired L.B. ever since I watched the film West Side Story when I was 9 or so, I agreed to write this piece. The instrumentation is basically the same as that of the Serenade, but without the solo violin and with the addition of a keyboard player on celesta and synthesizer. The work is a kind of mini-symphony in three short movements (fast, slow, fast) played attacca (i.e., without breaks). The first movement (Manically) is ceaselessly energetic, exuberant and explosive and should be performed with an over-the-top kind of energy, almost as if the music sounds “too fast”at times. The second movement (Glacially) is a small Adagio, chorale-like, with slowly morphing harmonies; much of its material is derived from a slow, little piano waltz Bernstein wrote late in his life, even though the waltz cannot be recognized until the end of the movement, when it appears as a fleeting reminiscence, sounding as if played by a little music box. The last movement (Propulsively) is fast and motoric, with pulsating, syncopated rhythms which should be performed as tightly as possible. There are strong hints of popular music (rock, techno, jazz) in this movement - one thing I’ve always admired about Bernstein’s music is the naturalness with which he incorporated elements of popular music in his concert works - and it eventually builds up to a relentless, frenzied ending. Leonard Bernstein was a man of boundless energy and boundless musical interests. I have tried to write a piece which captures some of that “boundlessness” (in a good way, I hope…).
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