Allegra Gabriella Smith is a prolific young composer from the San Francisco Bay area who started composing on her own at the age of 8. When she was 11, she began studying composition with pianist and composer Arkadi Serper of the Crowden School in Berkeley. She is now studying composition with David Ludwig at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Before beginning her studies at Curtis, she studied with composer Yiorgos Vassiladonakis and had several lessons with composer John Adams.
Notes from the Composer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
(x) = xsin2x+x
Performed Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong
I get a lot of my inspiration from the forms, structures, and energies in the natural world, and I also like math, which can describe these forms, designs, and energies so elegantly and concisely. This piece has three climaxes, each one bigger and more intense than the previous one. The function f(x) = xsin2x + x simply describes the curve (an ascending sine wave) of the energy of this piece as it progresses through time.
Down the Foggy Ruins of Time
Performed by Kelly Coyle (clarinet), Julia Li (violin), Branson Yeast (cello), and Andrew Hsu (piano) of the Curtis Institute of Music
Down the foggy ruins of time is inspired by the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s song "Mr. Tambourine Man." It is in three movements, played without a break. The first movement, "You might hear laughing, spinning, swinging," is fast and with a groove, filled with uneven bars, jagged accented lines, and large leaps. Eventually it dissolves into quiet, downward-moving noodlings, ending with all the instruments playing at the bottom of their ranges to form a muddy, mysterious mixture. The second movement, "Down the foggy ruins of time," is in theme-and-variation form and full of dense, mysterious, foggy sonorities, eerie tremolos, gentle, mysterious glissandos, and quietly beating cluster chords. It begins mysteriously as an eerie clarinet melody emerges from the fog while the violin noodles around it, accompanied by quiet clusters in the piano. The variations of this theme gradually work their way up to a climax in which the gentle, mysterious glissandos wail, the quietly beating cluster chords pound intensely, and the eerie noodlings turn into vast sweeps across the clarinet’s range. The variations continue, now slowly dying, until the movement ends as softly as it began. The third movement, "Madly across the sun," is a fast, crazy, folksy dance that eventually loses control and spins its way into a frenzy at the end of the piece.