Instrumentation: 9 players - flute (doubling alto flute), oboe, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, double bass
Duration: 10.5 minutes
Date of Composition: 2006
Like many of my compositions, Ellipsis is largely inspired by the paintings of Cy Twombly, in particular his massive, 52 foot-long Untitled Painting. Twombly completed it in 1994 (having begun work in 1972) and gave it the parenthetical title “Say Goodbye Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor."
There are obvious perceptive divisions between the visual (spacial) and aural (temporal). Nonetheless, composers and painters often utilize similar techniques that generate comparable dramatic effects. One such parallel involves my use of text, which is taken from two separate lines that appear in the Untitled Painting at the top and bottom of the far right side. Ellipsis begins with the phrase “How you gaze – beyond the vast time” whispered through the bass clarinet, horn, and bassoon. The text setting is done in such a way that the entire phrase is stretched out over two minutes. Each word is spoken whole and is also split up into different phonetic parts. The whole word and its component parts are simultaneously uttered. I adjoined these two statements (“How you gaze – beyond the vast time”) because of the clearly implied notion of looking at time. This is, after all, what I am attempting to do by infusing a purely aural world with ideas and techniques from the visual.
After a somewhat intense, noise-based opening section, Ellipsis suddenly shifts to a single pitch. From this point a new texture is gradually constructed. One has the sense of being methodically engulfed by an ever-expanding zone of pitch, register, and timbre. While Ellipsis isn’t intended to align itself programmatically with the story of Catullus leaving Bithynia, it is my desire to lead the listener forward into this massive “zone” in a manner akin to a boat floating further into the infinite maritime expanse.