OMEN

for chamber orchestra. 1985. Commissioned by the City of Heracleion, Crete. 12 minutes. No longer available for performance.
 


Omen was my first commissioned work from Greece. Musically the entire work is based on the opening four notes: D, E, G, A-flat which undergo extensive development throughout. This four-note motif and the seven note scale which is derived from it have been first used in Arcana, an earlier song cycle and subsequently, and more extensively, in Prisma, a chamber piece. Like in Prisma, here too these four notes are often associated with the overtone series on C of which they constitute the 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th partials. The work consists of two distinct sections which follow each other without a brake. The first is slower and quasi-improvisatory in sound, while the second which starts at measure 65 is very tight and rhythmically driven. The title of the work alludes to the musical mood of the piece and has otherwise no particular meaning. Omen was one of the first works of mine specifically influenced by my gradual re-awakening to the tenets of non-denominational Christianity and by my attraction to the mysticism of the eastern Church in particular. This is an 'one idea piece' in terms of its motivic, melodic and harmonic content, and like most 'one idea pieces' it is heavily dependent upon orchestration to convey its musical information. Care should be taken in performance to ensure that the types of percussion instruments used, mutes for the brass instruments, or the sound derived from playing multiple strings simultaneously by the string players are consistent with the overall sound that the piece calls for.
 


Premiere performance: August 24-27, 1986 by the Boston based ensemble Alea III under the direction of Theodore Antoniou. Heracleion Festival, Heracleion, Crete.
 

Instrumentation:

Flute, oboe, clarinet in B-flat, bassoon, French horn in F, trumpet in C, trombone, piano (without the lid), 2 percussion, string orchestra (1-6, 1-6, 1-6, 1-4, 1-3)
 


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