From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens, for Orchestra
I had originally conceived From Sombre Lands (2013) as a work for solo piano. It was requested by a dear friend and fellow composer for a recital which would connect Rachmaninoff’s Etude Tableau in D Minor Op. 33, No. 4 and Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major Op. 62, No. 1 on her program. I turned to the work of British semi-abstract landscape artist John Hitchens for inspiration, as works inspired by or responding to pieces of visual art have figured largely in my creative impetus, and I had already composed a piece based on the paintings ofJohn’s father, Ivon Hitchens, himselfa well-respected modern landscape artist. While the painting was integral in beginning the piano composition, upon completion it seemed that the work had taken a different direction. However, when I orchestrated From Sombre Lands, I felt I recovered some of my original intentions, the use of varied timbres better matching Hitchen’s own tactile, almost textile, textural variety and choice of warm colors than the piano’s timbral limitations. From Sombre Lands is dedicated to Shelby Flowers and to Matthieu Cognet, who near-simultaneously performed this work at Vanderbilt University and as part of (SUNY) Stony Brook University’s 2013 Piano Project respectively. The piano version was awarded first prize in the national division and fourth prize in the international division of the Golden Key Music Festival Piano Composition Competition. The orchestral version was selected in 2014 as one of the winning compositions of the Ablaze Records Orchestral Masters Series Vol. 2 call for scores. I am grateful to John Hitchens for the lively correspondence we have maintained, partly thanks to this work.