220.127.116.11-18.104.22.168-perc(2):vib/glsp/bongos/susp.cym/BD/wdbl/tgl(s)/anvil/cowbell/slapstick; tubular bells/tam-t/tgl(s,m,l)/tamb/susp.cym/crot/xyl/TD/ratchet/brake drum/sleighbells/vibraslap-pft-harp-22.214.171.124
These Particular Circumstances takes itself all too literally. Even if the music doesn’t always wear its heart on its sleeve, its titles keep few secrets (Spectators, behold--it spins! It teeters!). The piece, in seven episodes, is a collection of contrasts: different characters and kinds of music are stitched together in time, without pause. Although each of the individual parts may well stand on their own, they surely don’t; my specific intention sways toward putting each episode to use in service of the whole work, not unlike ingredients in a sauce. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario for me to remember which came first: did the name Grinding—the title of the fourth episode—describe the music I had written, or did I decide to write music that must grind? While I worked hard to form each episode around its own musical concerns and personality quirks, I bent and warped each as I saw fit toward my main objective: telling one twenty-minute tale, not seven short anecdotes. I viewed the large shape of the work as simply as I could: a waveform; or: up-down-up.
These Particular Circumstances was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for the inaugural season of CONTACT!, the New Music Series, and premiered, with Alan Gilbert conducting, on April 16th and 17th, 2010. I dedicate it to my longtime teacher and mentor Steven Stucky, with deepest admiration and appreciation.
— Sean Shepherd
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.
"There were plenty of striking moments within the detailed, busy work, with its kaleidoscopic use of orchestral color. "
— Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times
"Shepherd’s music has a wonderful way of making the orchestra shimmer."
— Christian Carey, Sequenza21