Commission: Michael James Smith
Premiere: Ware Hall, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, April 5, 2018
The Calder Project is an ever-expanding collection of character pieces for solo piano that respond to the work of the American sculptor Alexander Calder. This ongoing project has allowed me the dual pleasures of engaging with Calder’s marvelous work and collaborating with wonderful pianists. Jacob Greenberg (International Contemporary Ensemble) premiered the first piece, Hanging Mobiles, in 2014, and Yumi Suehiro (Ensemble Mise-En) gave the inaugural performance of the second, Acrobats I-VI, in 2017. I wrote the third and fourth pieces for Michael James Smith. Parachutist begins with unhurried tone clusters but takes a sudden, dramatic turn toward the flashy pianistic styles of James P. Johnson and Frederic Chopin, while Man on Stilts is an ode to the flexible — yet eminently danceable — rhythmic grooves that I associate with the music of D’Angelo.