Atlas

 

Year of Composition: 2015

Instrumentation: ob, bsn, vln, vc, pn

Duration: 10′

Premiere: February 5, 2015 by the International Contemporary Ensemble and Vincent Povazsay, conductor

Atlas is inspired by my dual love of highway driving and word puzzles. I composed the piece in several layers, beginning with a series of short attacks in the piano based on the mileage ratios of the 66 primary United States interstate system highways. I then orchestrated and expanded this material, submitted it to chance operations, and placed it on top of the original piece. Some of this material has also been reversed, so many of the same figures are found at both the beginning and the end of the piece (rather like the same letters are found at the beginning and end of a palindrome). The resulting work is somewhat of a surprise to me—especially those moments where all of the instruments happen to play together. I think of it like an atlas: individual components may lead from point A to point B, but the map as a whole represents infinite possibilities.