Green for orchestra (1986)

First Performance

20 November 1986
Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra/ Lukas Foss

first performance as a ballet:
11 June 1987
New York State Theater at Lincoln Center
New York City Ballet Orchestra/ Lukas Foss
New York City Ballet/ Peter Martins

Instrumentation

3(I,III=picc).2.corA.2.bcl.2—4.3.3.1—timp.perc(3):syl/marimba/vib/glsp/crot/tgl/
bongos/tom-t/crash cyms/susp.cym/BD/wdbl/
tpl.bl/cast/tamb/SD/t.bell—pft—harp—strings

Duration

12'

Press Quote

...with its rhythmic buoyancy and brilliantly coloured orchestration...it's an exhilarating rollar-coaster ride through an ever-changing terrain, a Disneyesque flight of imagination fused with the energy and power of a Beethoven scherzo- a veritable Torkean tour de force. Gramophone

Program Note

Green was originally called Verdant Music, when it was premiered by the Milwaukee Symphony in 1986. It was commissioned by the Robert E. Gard Foundation, an organization that supported the simple dignity of the people of Wisconsin. Green implies a kind of inexperienced freshness, something that is unseasoned and youthful. But the color green for me associates with the key of E major, and Green continues my exploration of writing energetic, single movement orchestral pieces that celebrate without mdulation a single color.

The piece is literally monothematic. The simple melody (F#-A-D#-E-B) always appears in some register, at some speed, with some kind of rhythmic character, with various dispositions. In some parts it combines with itself to form a kind of three part round, with each voice at a proportionately different tempo. Many times these melody notes are harmonized with simple tonic and dominant seven chords. The repeated and often frenzied use of these basic consonant building blocks creates a kind of mounting tension, which ironically finds relief in the more harmonically complex second group, where dissonant string chords are used in an expressive, but more relaxed way. This result is the opposite of the fundamental law of harmony: that dissonance creates tension and consonance relieves tension.