Chamber Concerto for Guitar and 10 Instruments, "The Calm Bee in the Busy Hive"


Alternate Title: 

The Calm Bee in the Busy Hive

Year Authored (or revised): 


Instrumentation : 

Guitar (solo) Guitar 2 Flute (dbl. picc) Clarinet in Bb Trumpet in C Vibraphone Harp Piano Violin Viola Cello

Duration (min): 



I. Building the Hive
II. Songs, Dances, and Laments of the Hive

First Performance: 

Dec. 8, 2010 Hartford

Composer's note: “The Calm Bee in the Busy Hive” grows out of a single sonority, the strum of the guitar’s strings, retuned to evoke the overtone series of it low E. The image of the piece is of the soloist as a calm, directed force in the midst of increasing activity. The subtitle of the work and the individual movement titles underscore this meaning.

The first movement literally constructs itself in real time. The soloist is progressively surrounded by concentric layers of music, played in turn by: second guitar; vibraphone; string trio; woodwind trio; harp and piano. In addition, the music in each outer layer moves to the next outermost with each addition, like ripples in a pool. Thus, it’s a canonic structure, though with free variation of material from layer to layer. When all the instruments have entered, the movement can end.

The second movement starts with a ringing lament (it was begun soon after the death of my father). It consists of a series of sections, equal in number to the first movement’s, but here, each is a free fantasy on the “fresh” material presented by the solo guitar in the first, but moving in reverse order, until we return to the repeated Ds of the opening. The music is “humming” throughout. It should project transparency and delicacy, even in its climaxes.

Print Edition Price: 

$29.95 conductor's score
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