HOME      BIOGRAPHY      COMPOSITIONS      BLOG      COURSE MATERIALS      BACH PAGE      MORE      CONTACT

LIKE A FANTASTIC AGUE

Date: 2011
Duration: 17 minutes
Instrumentation: fl, ob, cl, bsn, hn, tpt, tmb, tba, 2 perc, 2 vn, va, vc, db
Premiere: April 15, 2011. University of Iowa Center for New Music at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)



The title comes from the last of the Holy Sonnets of John Donne ("Oh, to vex me") in which he bemoans the constant wavering of his religious fervor: "...My devout fits come and go away like a fantastic ague..." Such an inconstancy is reflected in the moodiness of the piece as it ventures through various musical terrains. After a foreboding opening marked by an ominous melody in the bass instruments of the ensemble, a principal melodic theme anchored on the pitch B is forcefully voiced by the entire ensemble in two groups, one slightly delayed after the other. This B–centered melody, which is next elaborated on by the oboe over accompanimental string swells, is heard several times embedded within its various textures of the piece. Sections of slower pensive passages alternate with more hyperactive and extroverted ones often peppered with brass and percussive accents. Many sections are articulated by a 4–note arpeggio projected by the percussion corps and sustained by the strings, immediately followed by chord–cluster punctuations of various kinds. An extended version of this cadence closes the piece.
Ague was written for the University of Iowa Center for New Music, David Gompper conducting, and was premiered and featured on the ensemble’s spring 2011 Midwest tour.


Performances
—April 17, 2011: The University of Iowa (Iowa City)
—April 16, 2011: The University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
—April 15, 2011: The University of Wisconsin (Madison)