I was back in Lincoln for a concert a while back, and I wondered over to the music building. I ducked my head into John Bailey’s office to say hello. John is a brilliant flutist and scholar and someone I’ve always admired. I first met him when I was a graduate student, and we’ve done several projects together since then. In our conversation, he said, “Hey, do you want to write something for me?” When a player of that caliber asks, there is only one answer. That’s how this Sonata for Flute and Piano came to be birthed.

The first movement is called “Contrasting Color Schemes” and is sort of a Rochbergian experiment. I’ve always loved that third string quartet, and I’m the kind of composer that hears crunchy sounds as well as noughaty sounds. I tried to put them together in one candy bar here.

The second movement is a Nocturne. Here I’m combining my love for lyrical beauty with my penchant for polyrhythms. This may be the most successful movement of the bunch, and I’m thrilled that it’s being performed by John at the National Flute Association Convention later this year.

The third movement began with my love of Carnatic music and Indian Classical music in general. I’m a big fan of Advaita Vedanta, and I’m always going back to listen to a lecture about the topic or to listen to some music that came from that beautiful tradition. In this case, I was listening to a bunch of tabla music. I sort of sketched out some tabla type rhythms and then wrapped them around my own harmonic vocabulary. I called the result, rather cheekily, “Tabla Rasa.”

I’m very grateful to both John Bailey and Christopher Marks for making this premiere happen. The music is challenging both for the individual player and for the ensemble. If you’re interested in perusing the score or buying it, you can find it at MusicSpoke.

The full score also includes two “vestigial fugues” which came about in the writing process but didn’t make the cut for the final piece.