On the Troposphere (2009)
two clarinets (E-flat/B-flat, and B-flat/Bass cl., String Quintet, bass drum, 10'
On the Troposphere was written for Kira Bokalders and Ryan Leonard, two alumni clarinetists from Carnegie Mellon University. I wanted to write a piece that conveyed a feeling of weightlessness, near stasis, and cloud-like atmospheric textures, inspired by several works by John Luther Adams that I was studying at the time.
The clarinets are the driving force of the work, and their ranges, dynamics, and rhythms keep climbing upward throughout the piece. Both clarinetists double instruments, one on Bass and B-flat clarinet, and the other on B-flat and E-flat clarinets. The strings and bass drum provide varied textures that the clarinets pass through and interact with, from barely-audible wisps to more driving pulse-like accompaniment and rumblings like thunder. Toward the end of the work, the strings, winds, and percussion play as an ensemble and the piece builds to an intense finish.