for two guitars
The Kupiński duo (Ewa Jabłczyńska and Dariusz Kupiński) were in Louisville for over a year in 2018-19, working on a project of discovering and recording guitar music by composers who had won the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, which I direct. One of the fruits of their research was a CD of some of their discoveries. Given my connection to the award, they graciously included a work of mine, performed by my University of Louisville colleague, Stephen Mattingly. Chihuly Redux was written for them, of course.
Dale Chihuly is certainly the most famous glass artist in the world, probably the most famous artist ever. Although you could argue that he is perhaps a bit overexposed (and I imagine other glass artists might certainly feel so), I still find myself fascinated whenever I am around his work, and I have composed several pieces now inspired by it. His Ikebana is a series of works based, of course, on the Japanese art of flower arranging. I attempt to capture some of the subtle mystery of these works, but with some of the intensity and power one senses in even the gentlest of them, as well. Blue Neon Tumbleweed IV is the fourth piece, or movement from a longer piece, prompted by a stand-alone work of his. To quote myself from earlier notes for those pieces: Blue Neon Tumbleweed is housed in the Chihuly Collection of the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is exactly what you might think: very, very blue and bursting with light and energy. It doesn’t move, but as someone who grew up around tumbleweeds, I could easily imagine it rolling along the plains, blown here and there unpredictably by the constantly shifting Texas Panhandle winds. I have tried to capture that unpredictability with appropriately swirling motives, sudden changes of dynamics and register, and a momentum that lets up only occasionally and briefly. Although this is not at all a transcription of any of the earlier pieces inspired by this sculpture, I do use some of the same melodic material in each of them.