Aqaba is one of a handful of works from 1994 that uses an exotic tuning. Here, I was influenced by Ali Jihad Racy, a leading Arabic composer, performer and scholar, who introduced me to Arabic tunings. (This direction was explored more thoroughly beginning with Hamoa in 1995.) Aqaba's melodic voice passes through a variety of keyboard timbres.
Tumult represents my first multi-movement composition for meruvina. It was prophetically inspired by an Indian tabla rhythm I happened to hear on the car radio. In the early stages of the piece, I learned that a classmate of mine from Tanglewood committed suicide. Peter Gram Swing, the teacher of the class, informed me over the phone about the tragic death of his son, Timothy. My shock and dismay determined the title, and also the content of this music to a large degree. When he was in residence at CalArts, I played a recording of Tumult for Salvatore Martirano, who both complimented the piece, and remarked upon a connect with Sergei Rachmaninoff I had been unaware of.
Istanbul is a colorful blend of exuberant ostinatos combined with a playful synthesizer voice.
Sun Dance was inspired by African rhythms, and uses a wide range of instrumental colors, with a vibraphone serving as the main melodic voice.
Robinson Gardens was named in response to a large estate with magnificent gardens found close to my home in Beverly Hills. This was the first such estate (no relation) in the history of Beverly Hills, and guided tours are available. It occurred to me that my own personal gardens are my music, thus the title.
The first movement features slow keyboard music, very much like an alap. The second movement was inspired by Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. It combines energetic pizzicato strings with a penetrating clavichord. A movement purely for non-pitched percussion follows. The piece ends with music for acoustic guitar festooned by a variety of ethnic percussion ostinatos.