Now Is the Time for Secret Geometry

wrtiI just got word that Kile Smith‘s WRTI radio show, Now Is the Time, will feature my Secret Geometry for piano and electronic sound on tonight’s show – Sunday, August 25 at 10 pm on the US east coast; go here to listen.

I named my blog after this piece; my program note for the work might help explain why:

Secret Geometry can be heard as a short piano sonata, with the movements forming a typical fast – slow – fast pattern.  The electronic sounds on tape are tightly interwoven with the piano, often serving to extend and transform the piano’s sound.  The goal is to create a hybrid sound world.

The phrase “secret geometry” is used to describe the play of forms in certain paintings, referring to structural patterns that are employed to organize the pictorial elements.  Since the electronic medium permits a composer to focus on the micro-structure of individual sounds, as well as more customary concerns with patterns of pitch and rhythm, it seemed appropriate to choose a title that emphasizes the careful shaping of every compositional element.  But this is not to neglect the spiritual impulse of the work.  After all, the obscure motion of the Holy Spirit herself describes a secret geometry, what Thomas Merton called “a hidden wholeness”.

Written for the distinguished pianist Aleck Karis, Secret Geometry was composed with the assistance of a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  The tape was realized in the Presser Electronic Music Studio of the University of Pennsylvania.

In line with the George Crumb quote above, I think of my music as being about a “system of proportions” – a secret geometry – “in the service of a spiritual impulse”.

Aleck’s recording of the piece was originally issued on a CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.) disc. Though CRI no longer exists, their huge and important catalog has been made available once again by New World Records.

Click on the Discography link above for more of my music on disc.

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