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“Cycles” for bassoon quartet honors those who lost loved ones in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The title reflects both the living earth upon which we live and the fortitude of humanity. The first movement depicts serenity interrupted by bombastic resemblances of earthquakes and tsunamis. The movement is called “The Living Earth” as our planet is still evolving by constantly building up pressure and releasing that pressure. The opening serene section uses key clicks and wind sounds in the serenity section. Pitch bends in the melody are designed to resemble a shakuhachi. Syncopated explosions that use polytonal pentatonic scales represent the earthquake. Rapid ascending and descending scale patterns depict the resultant tsunami. The second movement is a hymn song for the souls of the dead. It is called “Ashes to Ashes” as it represents a different cycle, one of death and rebirth. Pentatonic scales abound once again but this time they modulate gently from one tonality to another instead of being used simultaneously. A song of redemption and hope for the survivors is the theme for the third and final movement, “Resiliency of the Spirit”. It depicts the strength of the human spirit and it is the cycle of joy growing out of sorrow. Taiko drumming is the major influence in this movement. It begins with a foot stomp followed by the drummers warming up. A staccato rhythmic section that imitates the drums follows this. A hymn-like theme in pentatonic is interpolated over this rhythmic drumming bringing the movement and the piece to a hopeful conclusion.
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