3 percussionists (vibraphone, glockenspiel, 2 suspended cymbals, triangle, xylophone, mark tree, 2 bass drums, tam tam, snare drum, piatti, wood block, 4 roto toms, 2 toms)
Silars Bald is a spot high in the Smoky Mountain National Park, about five miles south of Clingman's Dome, by way of the Appalachian Trail. During the summer of 1995 I made two backpacking trips to the area, making the shelter at Silars Bald my home base. Here I sat against a tree, shaded from the hot summer sun, and composed the bulk of this work.
All around me were the wonders of an incredible eco-system: birds by the hundreds, animals scurrying by, even a bear who charged at us looking for a handout. In this beautifully lush environment I sat and composed as quickly as my pen would allow. Not fifty feet away from me was another composer at work. Strumming on his guitar with a yellow legal pad in front of him, a fellow hiker was composing country songs with dreams of fame in fortune in Nashville. At least once he strolled over to me, looked over my shoulder and scratched his head in confusion.
The work begins slowly and quietly, just as a summer morning on the trail begins. Swirling colors are placed against a slow pulse from the bass instruments. The momentum slowly increases, though not the tempo, as each section, woodwinds, brass and percussion, is featured in its own concerto-like section. The work concludes as it began, with a return of the opening themes and the underlying bass pulse.
As in many of my recent works, the major triad has a primary role in forming the harmonic structures. As many as three or four triads are used simultaneously, to create rich dense harmonies, while still retaining the resonance that comes with triadic writing.
Silars Bald was composed for my friend and colleague, Gary Ciepluch, and the University Circle Wind Ensemble who premiered the work at the Cleveland Institute of Music on 1 May 1996.