Commission: American Composers Orchestra

ACO, George Manahan conducting. 2/20/09, Zankel Hall, New York City

15 minutes

Date: 2009

Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, 3 percussion, harp, keyboard, strings, real-time digital audio signal processing

PDF Score

Audio: streaming audio of the performance by ACO is available here and on Instant Encore

Brief program note: The Earth’s cryosphere (all of the surfaces where water is frozen) plays a critical role in the global climate system. Global warming is now reducing these surfaces precipitously, and we face great peril in the future if this process is allowed to continue. This piece draws inspiration from the cryosphere, particularly the way glaciers and icebergs form and dissolve. It embraces the beauty and mystery of these structures, while also lamenting their increasingly rapid and unnatural loss.

Cryosphere is scored for flute, oboe, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, 3 percussion, harp, electronic harpsichord, and chamber string orchestra. Real-time audio signal processing is deployed on all of the instruments enriching the natural sound of the orchestra with various transformations including spatialization, resonance, delay, and just intonation harmonizing. Cryosphere was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, to whom I express my deep gratitude for this opportunity. I would also like to express my gratitude to Jody Steiger and Carlos Bonilla, and to Bill and Allene Plant, for their hospitality during crucial stages of my work on this piece.