Desert Thunderclouds


INSTRUMENTATION | | timp | strings

4′ 00″

Written for the Seasons Festival Orchestra.

Premiered October 21, 2012, by the Seasons Festival Orchestra.

Storms on the Colorado prairie are swift and furious, with little advanced warning. The Front Range remains mostly a desert for months on end, and when the rains come they’re heralded by ominous thunderclouds that form quickly, releasing an electrifying fury – and sweet, refreshing rain. Especially for the pioneers of Colorado, the rains were a blessing in disguise – washing away months of dust and grime in a caustic surge promising growth and renewal.

The pulsating harmonies and patterns of Desert Thunderclouds develop from low fundamentals rumbling in the bass, trombone, and timpani, much the same way as a lightning storm is precipitated by a tiny cloud seeding the sky. Strings swell on pitch collections derived from these low bass tones, creating tapered dynamic envelopes each with distinct textures and colors (much like the sun’s rays breaking through storm clouds). Rhythmic changes and movement in fundamental pitches spark the development of new pulsations in the strings and winds that push forward into a climactic surge breaking through the entire orchestra.

And as quickly as the rains came, they soon depart, leaving only remnants of the initial thunderclouds.