The Crows

for symphony orchestra

2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, 2 hn, 2 trp, trb, perc (1 player), strings (min

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 David Rakowski.

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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