For Chamber Ensemble

Grade VI

Commissioned by Kamran Ali and Scott Webel on behalf of the University of Texas at Austin South Asia Institute in conjunction with Pakistan’s National Academy of Performing Arts and the US State Department


Program Notes

Moon of the 15th is a true work of fusion. I was thrilled when, in the summer of 2015, I was contacted by Scott Webel to create a work for a new group that combined 6 Austin musicians with 6 guest Pakistani musicians (all of whom teachers at the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, the first of its kind there). The group named itself Sangat, a Sanskrit word that means “fellowship.” The piece is based on a melody by Ahsan Sabbir, one of the group’s vocalists, and rhythms by Muhammad Waqas, the group’s tabla player. I then took the materials and composed additional lines, the harmonies throughout, and established a form that incorporated what I would call “Western” versions of Eastern techniques. For example, the piece utilizes alaps, or improvised solo sections. Traditionally these occur over a singular sustained drone. However, I decided to create evolving ostinati that grow out of the drone to try an create a sense of forward motion and intensity, pushing through the soloistic sections to the final melodic statement. The piece features Middle-Eastern modes, punctuated by traditional classical harmonies and chords, while steadily evolving from a more “classical chamber” sound to a “jazz/raga/rock based fusion” sound. Over the many months I conducted the ensemble on our American tour, the piece continually changed as the musicians contributed small bits of personal taste, their exceptional musicianship truly turning the work into a living piece of art. Moon holds a special place in my heart – the music is more a reflection of the community of great human beings who created its premieres than it is of my ability as an individual. Shouldn’t all art be that way?