Azwaj (2018) - ca. 8'
flute, clarinet in B-flat, violin, violoncello, piano, and percussion
Commissioned by the Utah Arts Festival
Premiered June 23, 2018: Sinfonia Salt Lake conducted by Robert Baldwin – Salt Lake City, UT
Azwaj, or “pairs” in Arabic, is an energetic, rhythmically charged depiction of three pairs of dissimilar instruments playing similar dance-like material together. In this work, these conjoined pairs are the flute and violin, clarinet and cello, and percussion and piano. The woodwinds and strings are mostly confined to roving scales based on the maqamat (Arab modes), which contain an abundant use of “quarter-tones,” the pitches that lie halfway between the“black” and “white” keys. The pairing of the percussion and piano makes use of a specific preparation involving tambourine cymbals. These small cymbals, when removed from their normal apparatus as part of the tambourine, are used to create entirely different, unusual sounds when employed in the context of this ensemble.