The Evening Redness in the West
Duration - 11'
Instrumentation - Full orch -
2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2+dbl - 220.127.116.11 - perc(3) - hp - pno.cel - strings
The title of this piece is the subtitle of Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian. Described as an "anti-western", the book follows the unnamed "kid" as he joins a band of sadistic bounty hunters on a bloody rampage through early 19th century Mexico. I have long been fascinated with Blood Meridian with its startling juxtaposition of horrifically violent imagery and beautiful prose, as well its inscrutability; events occur in a total vacuum of context while still being colored with an elusive gravity by the simple yet bizarre language in which they are described. I am always left with more questions than answers when I put it down.
The most important impression that the novel has left with me is the quality of violence that it presents. In the world of Blood Meridian, it takes on the role of a god; venerated, omnipresent, existing outside of time. I think its greatest quality is its ability to contextualize the role of violence in our own time. We are left with the impression that our relationship to brutality and war is too intimate to ever change, but how can this be true in the civilized first world of the 21st century? Violence now might not be a part of my everyday life, but it thrives now more than ever in other forms—commodified, exported, transmuted. Our scalps are harvested secondhand.
The Evening Redness in the West takes its structure from the novel itself. New tempo markings are analogues for chapters, themselves broken into different sections as in Blood Meridian. This is done not necessarily to preserve discrete images (though some remain), but to present a
continuously evolving characterization of violence. The lingering concept of the "anti-western" brought to mind certain characteristics of "American" music (Copland, Gershwin, etc.) that are occasionally twisted and applied to this end.
Winner of IU's 2021 New Voices Orchestra Composition Competition and subsequently premiered by IU Concert Orchestra.
First prize in NYC Metropolitan Youth Symphony's 2021-2022 Emerging Composers Competition, Orchestra Division II
Performed by the IU Concert Orchestra under David Dzubay among the winners of IU's 2021 New Voices Orchestra competition