Instrumentation: Solo and Piano Instruments: Piano, Tuba
The Phoenix is a tour de force piece for tuba and piano commissioned by Kayla Davis. The piece represents the internal and external struggles associated with challenging a mindset that desperately needs repair but refuses to listen. Daunting chords signify a near-impossible foe while the tuba represents a lone phoenix fighting for change. Inevitably the phoenix is wounded and nears defeat. It is in this time that the slightest glimmer of hope gives way to rebirth – a stronger and wiser version of the phoenix charges forth, refusing to yield. The work ends triumphantly but whether the battle has been won or our phoenix has escaped to see another day is up to the listener to discern.
The material of this work is derived from a seven-note motive created by assigning each letter in the word “phoenix” to a pitch. There are also several references to composers and works Kayla and I were performing during the piece’s inception. Some references are harmonic or rhythmic, some are structural, and others cry out at the frustrations associated with daily life in a place where the mindset needs challenging.
The Phoenix premiered April 19th, 2015 by Kayla Davis (tuba) and Elisabeth Tomczyk (piano) at the Hartt School of Music.