Into the Mists

Commissioned by Alison Shaw and Premiered by the Quorum Ensemble on June 6, 2006 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.


Into the Mists (1997-98) was commissioned by Alison Shaw for Quorum. It was completed in January, 1998 in Pittsburg, Kansas and slightly revised for premiere eight years later. The general arch of the work moves from energy to stasis; thus the title. (The title has nothing to do with any books or movies that have similar titles.) The first section of the work is meant to, in a word, jam. Repetition is variously employed, as are some very interesting time signatures that I would explore again later in Coil (2000). The percussionist acts frequently as the leader (the “key” in the sense of a clave player in Latin music) of each new section.

The energetic and asymmetric first section eventually becomes more regular, and there is a segue to a differently-repetitive middle section. Led by bells, the ensemble breaks into a double trio. The Percussion, Clarinet, and Piano play short cells of repetitive material and are, in fact, all three in different time signatures yet with an underlying, unifying 8th-note pulse. The Violin, Saxophone, and Bassoon are composed on top of this tapestry in a free, expressive style. The latter trio obeys their own singular time signature, yet all six are united by the 8th-note pulse.

The final section (coda) is a shorter section where all parts diminish until a near-stillness remains in the air.


Violin, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Percussion and Piano