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Try Color


violin, cello, piano


Commissioned by Trio 180


  • Première: Trio 180 Resident Artist Recital, University of the Pacific, April 27, 2022. 

  • Additional Performance: SCI Region 8 Conference, University of Puget Sound, Feb 25, 2023

Try Color, commissioned for Trio 180’s twentieth anniversary, is a work in threes — I initially titled the piece “Tricolor” before settling in the end on its homonym. The work’s opens with a meditative cycle around three pitches, G-D-E, a reordering of D-E-G in a nod to the 180 degrees of a triangle. The piece also has three sections: an introduction featuring unisons and natural string harmonics, a middle section that introduces the main theme — itself an outgrowth of the D-E-G motive — and a conclusion that restates the melody more emphatically.

As I was composing Try Color and thinking about the mathematical properties of a triangle, I kept having the feeling that the music I was writing was about more than just geometry. I eventually realized that I was writing a piece about togetherness and collaboration. The three musicians begin by playing virtually every note together in unison, and the fact that the violin and cello are limited at first to open strings forces all three players to work together to construct a melody. In hindsight, I was also writing a piece about love. Making great music with a group of humans, year after year, requires a kind of love, or at least deep admiration. The main melody of this piece sounds to me like love. Finally, most essentially, this piece is a lullaby written for and in celebration of Ernie Lumia, who on the date of this premiere will be nearly one year old, and whose very being is a reminder that the world still offers cause for optimism.

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