Difficult Places (2015)
for large ensemble, electronics, and video [18:30]

Difficult Places is a collaboration with the video artist Leonel Dietsche, loosely inspired by the work of the American author and composer Paul Bowles. The piece is presented as a diptych, with video clips (triggered in real time by an onstage keyboard) projected on two large screens above the ensemble. These images, as well as many of the sounds heard in the piece, were collected in New York City and in Morocco over the course of two trips in the spring of 2015. Other sounds sources include samples recorded with the players of Ensemble Modern (rice falling into Japanese singing bowls, oboe multiphonics, a contrabass prepared to sound like a guimbri), a field recording of a solo flute made by Bowles himself in the 1950s, and two “period numbers,” a foxtrot and an Ellington-style big band ballad, recorded with Ensemble Modern ahead of the premiere…

Difficult Places was premiered on November 28, 2015 at the cresc… festival by Ensemble Modern, with Johannes Kalitzke conducting.