PACIFIC RIM (1988/2010) for Wind Ensemble
Dedicated to H. Robert Reynolds and the USC Thornton Wind Ensemble
2 Piccolos (doubling Flutes 3 & 4) 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, E-flat Clarinet, 3 B-flat Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, B-flat Piccolo Trumpet, 2 B-flat Trumpets, 2 F Horns, Euphonium, 3 Trombones, Tuba, 5-6 Percussionists (Water Chime, Vibraslap, 2 tuned Cowbells in A5 and F#5, Rute, Bass
Drum, 4 Tom-toms, 2 Woodblocks, Small Gong in F#4, Crotales, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Marimba), Piano, String Bass
Pacific Rim was originally composed in 1988 for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the present version for wind ensemble was made in 2010 for H. Robert Reynolds and the University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble. It is very much a reflection of how certain aspects of Asian and Latin-American musics have filtered into my mind and become transformed and absorbed into my compositional thought. The piece is in two linked sections, and may be simply described as a processional and fugue.
The processional moves at a brisk, march-like tempo, but with the primary emphasis on the unfolding of this melody rather than the tread of its rhythm. It opens with a high, floating chord reminiscent of the sonority of Japanese gagaku music. Double reeds enter, stating the basic melodic idea of the processional which then unfolds in alternation with refrains dominated by trumpets. The other instruments interact with the melody in clearly defined roles, helping to articulate details of the melody's structure. When the final refrain reaches its culmination, the processional rounds a corner, leaving behind a quietly rising cloud of chords.
The second part begins with a solo for tuned cowbells. This is the start of the fugue, one that is, in contrast to the first part, primarily concerned with rhythmic energy. The fugue subject is presented three times, leading eventually to a climax that borrows its harmonic basis from the processional. Shortly thereafter, the fugue too rounds a corner, leaving behind distant fragments. Soft gong strokes usher in a pair of slow phrases as something of a benediction before returning to the fast pace of the finale. The brass burst in with one last statement of the fugue subject and the piece comes to a boisterous conclusion.