orbiting the singularity, 2004 rev. 2007
For string quartet

orbiting is by far the thorniest, most complex piece I have ever written.  Originally composed in 2004, it got an overhaul in 2007 when I was given the opportunity to work with the Arditti Quartet.  While reworking the score, I kept the group's particular strengths and idiosyncrasies in mind and felt no qualms about exploring issues of virtuosity.

The piece was originally inspired by my fascination with (and vague understanding of) black holes.  I was intrigued by the idea of an invisible force exerting influence on everything around it; this caused a vivid dream in which I found myself in orbit around a small black hole, facing outward, watching various stellar objects getting sucked into it, their aspects stretched or squished as they came too close.  orbiting takes a whimsical, pseudo-scientific approach and works according to a smattering of my own confabulated understanding of astrophysics, especially the principles of gravity in extra-dimensional space.  The piece moves through a series of invisible "gravity nodes," each of which exerts some kind of influence on one or more various parameters of the material (figure, timbre, harmony, etc.).


orbiting the singularity was a co-winner of the 2004 Hochschulewettbewerb der Rektorenkonferenz der Musikhochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Komposition (National German Conservatory Competition) and received honorable mention in the 2009 Clefworks Composition Competition for String Quartet.


This performance is by the Arditti Quartet, during the June in Buffalo festival of 2007.