Ritornello (2011) - Program Note

As a teenager I was an avid fan of the prog-rock band King Crimson in its second incarnation, which featured the great electric guitar duo Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew. When I set out to write this concerto, their mesmerizing contrapuntal textures came to mind. As the piece evolved, the material seemed connected to the Baroque 'concerto grosso', both in style and form (exemplified by composers such as Corelli and Vivaldi). Knowing that Wiek Hijmans is a formidable improviser, I left room for him to explore further musical possibilites, separating the ritornello sections with 'French Overture' interludes (exemplified by composers such as Lully), the second one overlaid with a thrash-metal (Metallica, Slayer, et al.) solo that likewise evokes the Baroque aesthetic in its mannered, epic style.

Premiere performaces (all with Wiek Hijmans, soloist):
World Premiere: Albany Symphony, David Alan Miller, conductor; EMPAC Center, May 21, 2011
European premiere: Nederlands Jeugdorkest, Bas Wiegers, conductor;
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, June 15, 2011
US West Coast Premiere: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane,
conductor; Royce Hall, Los Angeles, Sept 24/25, 2011

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