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Pathways: Opposing Forces
solo tenor trombone (alto in Movement II) and chamber orchestra: flute (dbl. alto flute), flute (dbl. piccolo), oboe, English horn, Bb clarinet, Bb bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 Bb trumpets, trombone, 2 percussion, strings (33221).
to Heidi, Gabriel, and Maxwell
June - November 1993; revised March - May 1994
Andrew Glendening, trombone; Nova Ensemble; Joseph Klein, conductor
Andrew Glendening, trombone; Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra; Christopher Russell, conductor
Andrew Glendening, trombone; Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra; John Deal, conductor
audio recording (YouTube)
Andrew Glendening (trombone) and the Nova Ensemble, conducted by the composer. From the recording Pathways: New Music for Trombone (Mark MCD-1629, 1994).
Pathways is a series of works featuring a variety of solo instruments with a single, fixed orchestral accompaniment. Versions for trombone (Opposing Forces), percussion (Revolution), and soprano saxophone (Interior Shadows) have been completed to date, exploring the distinct relationship between each soloist and the ensemble. The conceptual metaphor for Pathways is that of a traveler: though a single road may be taken by different individuals, the various experiences and responses to a particular environment may vary substantially with each. Here, the orchestra serves as a monolithic sonic landscape through which the various soloists traverse. Structural models used in Pathways are inspired by natural phenomena, manifested in mathematical sequences, fractals, and chaotic/entropic processes.
The first in the series, Pathways: Opposing Forces was composed for trombonist Andrew Glendening, and was supported in part by a grant from the Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center. This version, which received honorable mention for the 1994 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Award competition, was first performed on 9 October 1993 at the University of North Dakota by Andrew Glendening with John Deal conducting the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra. Here the relationship between trombonist and ensemble is one of contention, with the two forces pitted against one another throughout. Pathways: Opposing Forces is divided into three movements, the first of which, Fractured Horizons, is a study in entropy, where the trombonist seems to push the ensemble beyond its breaking point. Here the concept of "horizon" is evoked, from the ellusive points at the edge of the earth to the cosmological event horizon at the boundary of a black hole. The second movement, The Searcher, is intended as a tribute to exploration and questioning, and to those who dedicate their lives to such pursuits in any field. The third movement, Butterfly Storm, is named for a principle known as "sensitive dependence on initial conditions." This pertains to those systems which develop exponentially rather than geometrically, where minute deviations in an early stage can lead to extremely divergent results. Studied by meteorologist Edward Lorenz in the early 1960's and initially applied to weather systems, the so-called "Butterfly Effect" is a reference to the hypothetical notion that a butterfly stirring the air today in Peking could ultimately generate storm fronts in New York City next month.
The Pathways series is dedicated to my wife, Heidi, and my sons, Gabriel and Maxwell, and was supported by a CCP Grant from the American Composers Forum (funded by the Jerome Foundation) and a faculty research grant from the University of North Texas. The work is included on the album Pathways: New Music for Trombone (Mark MCD-1629, 1998).