LARGE CHAMBER ENSEMBLE - Three Rivers (2001)

Commissioned by WNYC radio for Kitchen House Blend. 

Three Rivers by Derek Bermel, a new-music composer who has dipped into rock and African music, finessed the distinction between big band and chamber ensemble. As the themes overlapped, grappled, fused and pulled apart, the earthy beat and angular melodies made the music swagger like a more abstract ‘West Side Story.’
— New York Times
[Three Rivers] is put together with a crafty imagination that constantly keeps the ear off-guard…one sonic knockout I’d love to hear again.
— Chicago Tribune

Three Rivers (2001) was inspired by a trip to Pittsburgh, during which I spent several hours staring, mesmerized, at the tumultuous and strikingly beautiful meeting point of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. During the course of the piece, three rhythmic currents - a thick soup of lugubrious funk, a series of undulating mid-tempo phrases, and frenetically bubbling passages at maniacal speed - mix and collide, at times flowing separately, at other moments concurrently. Two guided improvisations of indeterminate length are framed by the three larger sections of the work. Three Rivers was commissioned by WNYC radio and premiered by House BLend at the Kitchen, conducted by the composer. 

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