2(I=picc).2(II=corA).1(II=bcl).2(II=dbn) – – perc(4) – pft.hp – str


18 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

The Age of Wire and String was premièred on April 6, 2022 by the Phoenix Symphony in Phoenix, Arizona.
Tito Muñoz, conductor

Commissioned by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting and dedicated to Tito Muñoz.

The Age of Wire and String was created with the support of a
Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship and the Edward T. Cone Foundation.


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The Age of Wire and String has had a circuitous journey as a composition: originally conceived as a ballet, it came to life as an orchestral suite at the encouragement of my friend, conductor Tito Muñoz. The title is drawn from an experimental novel by the author Ben Marcus; from his speculative worlds. His idea of a “wind gun” inspired the opening of my work—a blast of air from the brass.

Because of its dance origins, Wire and String takes the simplest of possible ideas, an evenly pulsed, repeating note, and then subjects it to a series of transformations over 18 minutes.

Set in six chapters, the work opens with a repeated B in the vibraphone. Against this, a variety of noises—a high violin pizz here, a xylophone thwack there—dance around the steady pulse until a high floating chorale emerges in the winds. Slowly, this chorale grows fuller and richer until it suddenly turns dark and almost demonic, with low trombones blasting dissonances against the light texture. In the second chapter, the repeated B finally gives way to a B-flat in the glockenspiel, still repeating but proceeding at two-thirds the speed of the first. Throughout the work, the sections are connected by what is called “metric modulations,” relating tempi by simple mathematical relationships. The second chapter is a kind of march, one that builds and builds until it gradually introduces a sweeping, descending melody in the strings and trumpets.

Similarly, the third chapter is connected by another metric modulation, a lush, low chorale, where the single repeated note is now in the harp. Against this lone pulse is a now multitude of repeated pulses, running at different speeds—triplets, quarter notes, dotted quarters—while the chorale slowly escalates to a climax in the strings.

At this point the work begins to show its form, not just a suite of ideas but a large-scale “arch” form, where materials begin to come back in reverse order: the fourth chapter is parallel to the second (another march); the fifth, transitional chapter takes a secondary theme from the first chapter; and the sixth and final chapter is a proper full return to the opening B in the vibraphone. In this final chapter, we see all the themes of the work across the previous chapters—the swooping melody from the second, the chorale from the third, and the march from the fourth—coming together before drawing to a gentle close. 

The Age of Wire and String was ︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎commissioned by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting and is dedicated to Tito Muñoz. It was created with the support of a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship and the Edward T. Cone Foundation.