Crystal Fragments

(2003) 13 min.

Orchestra 2222/2200/3 pc/hp/strings


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The timeframes of various art forms has long fascinated me. A novel can take years to write, and generally takes hours to read. A feature film usually falls within a 1-2 hour length (similar to the length of a play) while the amount of time someone experiences a painting can vary considerably. Contemporary orchestra music usually falls within the 10'-20' framework or less (Murray Schafer once cynically titled a piece 'No Longer Than Ten Minutes' in response to a commission request for a shorter work), short poems can take just seconds to read.

My work was partially inspired by the idea of sets of short pomes and specifically a set of short poems by Michael Ondaatje entitled 'The Nine Sentiments'. Rather than set or describe these poems, however, I instead became interested in writing short 'poems' of my own for orchestra. Crystal Fragments' thirteen movements vary in length from 20" to 2'40" (one movement only) and have a performed time of about fifteen minutes. Like Ondaatje's poem, my piece is inspired by the nine 'sentiments' found in East Indian art - romantic/erotic, humorous, pathetic, angry, heroic, fearful, disgustful, amazed and peaceful. These were also the basis for John Cage's 'Sonatas and Interludes' for prepared piano- another source of inspiration for the work.

Crystal Fragments was commissioned by the Windsor Symphony through the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.

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