Opus 549

Foresight Spinning: Meditations for Contrabass and Ensemble (2004)

for Solo Contrabass and Ensemble

Flute, Clarinet, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Cello
  • Prologue
  • Glimpses
  • Canto
  • Realities
  • Epilogue

Doug Balliett, contrabass; Callithumpian Consort; Stephen Drury, conductor

Duration: 9.5 min.

Dedication: for Bernard Rands on his 70th birthday and for Douglas Balliett to play

Commission: Commissioned by the Broeker Fund for New Music

Publisher: Lauren Keiser Music Publishing

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Foresight Spinning: Meditations for Contrabass and Ensemble (2004) was commissioned by the Broeker Fund for New Music and was written for bassist Douglas Balliett to premiere with the Callithumpian Consort, Stephen Drury, director. The work is dedicated to composer Bernard Rands on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

This work is a piece about looking forward. Each section of material looks ahead to the one that follows it. The bass throughout acts as the focal point—its gestures and material spread out to engage the rest of the ensemble. The subtitle “meditations” comes from the generally subdued character of the work.

The work is cast in five brief movements which play without break. The opening movement, Prologue, casts the bass in the foreground as it brings the ensemble alive. In the second movement, Glimpses, the bass moves back and forth between an accompanying and featured role. The third movement, Canto, is a long-breathed song for the bass in the upper register while the ensemble explores a variety of commentaries on the material. These commentaries threaten to overwhelm the melody. The fourth movement, Realities, is a moto perpetuo for the bass. Out of the material of the bass’s moving runs comes the ensemble’s bizarre and seemingly disorganized interjections. The final Epilogue recalls material from the earlier movements, bringing the work to a slightly enigmatic ending.