Distances Between Us

Distances Between Us was commissioned by Kindall NeSmith and Todd Smith in the fall of 2010.  The couple requested a piece that reflected the unorthodox nature of their relationship; much of the time they've been "together" has actually been spent "apart" due to graduate school, jobs, and so on.  The project had a personal resonance for me, since I too had lived in such a situation on and off over the past several years (for many of the same reasons).  I used this together/apart dichotomy as the conceptual basis for the work.

Kindall and Todd after the premiere of "Distances."

Kindall and Todd after the premiere of "Distances."

To start, I chose a small pitch collection that contains not only the two fundamental pitches of Kindall and Todd's instruments (E-flat and B-flat, respectively), but also the tones that lie a half-step below each (D and A).  This half-step idea became a fundamental aspect of my thematic materials, and greatly influenced my choice of subsequent scales (especially the Lydian mode).  The outer boundaries of this collection, A and E-flat, became the tonal arms of the piece, which rotate around C, the pitch equidistant between them.  Thus the C axis served as a meeting place where the two instruments could come together.  The piece consists of a series of solos and duos with varying amounts of commentary and support from the piano; it culminates in an arching ecstatic melody before drawing to a wistful, contented conclusion.

This recording of the premiere performance was excerpted from Kindall's final Master's recital at the Hartt School in April of 2011.

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