Robert Burbea

The Circle of Darkness and Fire

for flute, oboe, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, cello and double bass

duration: 20 minutes


In a way, The Circle of Darkness and Fire presents a 'war' or struggle between three different musics, each having their own harmonic language and particular melodic, rhythmic or textural characteristics. In the process of composition, each of these represented to me a different kind of human/spiritual energy or expression.

The piece opens with music of prayer and contemplation, and from this emerges a Dance of the Earth, but as it unfolds and builds this second music is violently interrupted by a third kind of music - a demonic and destructive force.

In a sense then the piece has three 'expositions' in its single movement form, and as it progresses into the 'development' section, each of the musics takes turn in occupying centre stage. In the course of 'battle', elements of one music infiltrate and are absorbed into another - they exert their forces on each other in different ways and may be transformed themselves in the process.

Rob Burbea was born in London, and began playing classical guitar at the age of 17. An 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 at Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. candidate in Composition and Theory, studying with Yehudi Wyner.

His music has been performed in Boston and in numerous cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Back to shortlist.