for symphony orchestra
2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, 2 hn, 2 trp, trb,
perc (1 player), strings (min 18.104.22.168.2)
duration: 3 minutes
The Crows employs very similar harmonic
material in two very different guises, reflecting a concern to express
something of the essential underlying unity (nonduality) of "Light"
and "Darkness" in the Universe, and to hopefully point instead
at the unfathomable Mystery in which both are held.
It begins as a slow chorale over a pedal, with a somewhat static or non-developmental
quality. There follows a dense orchestral texture of wind fragments over
a background of layered, very active ostinati and quasi-ostinati in the
strings, evolving gradually but definitely along certain rhythmic, registral,
textural and timbral lines. This texture builds and leads to a central
climax, before eventually returning to an altered version of the opening
chorale - tranquil, luminous and mysterious.
Robert Burbea grew up in London,
and began playing classical guitar at the age of 17. He traveled widely
in Asia, Australia and the Middle East, and earned a BA in Psychology
at Oxford University, but decided instead to follow a vocation in Music.
His interest in improvisation led him to Boston to study jazz at Berklee
College of Music, and after graduating he taught guitar and led a jazz
group performing his original compositions around the Boston area. He
received a Masters Degree in Jazz Composition, and later in Composition
from New England Conservatory, where he studied principally with Michael
Gandolfi (and also with John Heiss, Lee Hyla and Joseph Maneri). He is
currently a graduate fellow and Ph.D candidate in Composition and Theory
at Brandeis University, studying with Yehudi Wyner, Martin Boykan and
His music has been performed in Boston and in numerous cities throughout
the United States and Canada, as well as in London. Recent works include
"Visions of Digambara" (for solo clarinet), "Spiritus Sanctus
vivificans vita" (a motet for four voices on a text of Hildegard
of Bingen), "Four Mandalas" (for flute, clarinet, cello and
piano), "The Crows" (for orchestra), and "Amara Vigil"
(for solo piano), which will soon be released on the CRS label. Recently,
his octet, "The Circle of Darkness and Fire", was given its
UK premiere by the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Rob is also a founding member of OUM, a Boston based composers’ collective
that seeks to broaden the audience for New Music through different kinds
of concerts, events, outreach and educational programs.
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