Instrumentation: 2 Pianos and 2 Percussionists

Duration: 16 minutes

Date of Composition: 2005


Gaeta is scored for two pianos and water percussion. It was premiered by Ensemble Dal Niente in January of 2005. The title Gaeta refers to a port just north of Naples, Italy. The town takes its name from Aeneas’ nursing maid Caieta, who died on the spot where the town was built. Dante refers to the event in the Inferno (canto 26, line 92). For many years, the U.S. Navy has docked its ships there. I lived in Gaeta for the first two years of my life.

There is an obvious link between the use of water in the music and the image of a seaside village. But there are other less apparent personal associations. The American artist Cy Twombly owns a studio in Gaeta. Twombly’s work has exerted a greater influence upon me than any other artist or composer. I used to live near the Cy Twombly gallery in Houston. I had the unique luxury of spending many hours in front of his works, studying the poetic imagery that often straddles the line between abstract and figurative. Many have likened Twombly’s canvases to some sort of ancient graffiti. Mythical names (Achilles, Hector, Orpheus) as well as crudely rendered images (solar barques) and texts are frequently blended with color that is deeply penetrating yet nuanced. This somewhat ineffable convergence between the ancient and the modern generates a sense of suspension or timelessness. Similarly, I have attempted to enter into this state of suspension by first creating acoustic textures that at times sound contemporary (in some cases electronic) and in other instances seem somewhat primal. The overall sense of musical timelessness is furthered by the slow pace at which one texture blends into the next.

Purchase a Recording:

Find a complete recording of Gaeta on Marilyn Nonken's 2011 disc Stress Position, released by New Focus RecordingsStress Position includes the major piano works by Drew Baker. Click the "Add to Cart" button below to purchase a CD with complete liner notes or find digital downloads on iTunes and Amazon.

Stress Position (CD)
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