Widening Circles (2012)
for eight players (shô, sheng, clarinet, accordion, harp, zheng, qanûn, and santur) and electronics [15:30]
Widening Circles is a piece in four expanding movements written for the reeds and zithers of the Atlas Ensemble. Each movement has an incrementally larger compass than the previous; length and ensemble size grow with each movement, along with the richness of color and pitch material, which moves from the constraints of two intricate chromatic instruments to a full microtonal palette.
The form unfolds like a series of progressively more distant memories of a single event — not literal transcriptions, but filtered and distorted reminiscences where certain elements are magnified while others are omitted in a given recollection, only to assume an exaggerated role in the next.
The first movement is a duet for Japanese sho and harp, seated center stage. The second movement adds two Chinese instruments: the zheng (zither) and sheng (mouth organ). For the third movement, the ensemble expands to eight instruments, and for the fourth and final movement, spatialized electronics (based on additive synthesis to imitate reeds, physical models of strings, and concatenated samples of both) are introduced—a step beyond the frame into an enveloping landscape of imagined color.
Widening Circles was premiered 31 August 2012 at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam by members of the Atlas Ensemble, conducted by the composer. The electronics were realized at SWR Experimentalstudio in Freiburg.