LARGE ENSEMBLE CHAMBER - Continental Divide (1996) Program Note
Continental Divide was inspired by the chapter The Origin and Fate of the Universe, in Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time. Hawking describes a "chaotic inflationary model" for the universe, in which expension is not constant, but rather progresses in smaller bursts, each of which defines a new phase transition.
Instead of moving through physical space, the elemental musical "particles" in Continental Dividemove through time at varied levels of pulse. At certain junctures - musical "phase transitions" - the rhythmic nature of the musical material undergoes dramatic transformations. As the movement progresses, particles fly away from the center at different speeds and collide in rapidly increasing entropy.
The Continental Divide is the point in America where water flows to different oceans. I wrote it in 1995-96 while traveling back and forth between Amsterdam and New York. The premiere was given on March 10, 1997 by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, conducted by Edwin London.