Today the University Orchestra played this work by our visiting composer and in listening while I played, I heard a lot of things that I can write about easily when dealing with her music.
One of the biggest things about Ms. Thomas' music is that being 20th century music, it seems to be dependant on anything EXCEPT melody and contour. I would have to say that the defining characteristic of her work in general and this work in particular is definately rhythm. It is interesting because she uses it in a way similar to very early 20th century composers, as a motive and as something (perhaps the only thing) constant in her music.
It was interesting trying to explain her music to my Dad and brother who visited on Friday for my brother's Depauw audition and sat in on the rehearsal of the piece. My Dad said he couldn't enjoy the piece whatsoever because of its "spastic" nature. I can definately agree with him on this, though I know how to appreciate the music for what it is.
I like the fact that the piece is broken up into what seems to be a five part journey through the universe, and if you listen carefully you can in fact hear the separate parts just as she described them today at the concert. I would have to commend her on her choice of the Double Bass representing the "timeless galaxy" at both the beginning and ending of the piece. It gives an ominous and somewhat foreboding tone to the piece that I think fits really well.
The performance of the piece today went well for the most part, and I even noticed some sections where there was repetition of different motives and dialogue between different instruments that I hadn't heard before which was cool. Its always great to get a chance to listen to another part and try to get a better idea of what is going on in the piece as a whole when you are sitting as a part of an ensemble.