1986 is inspired by the music of Charles Ives, and is based on the tune "My Grandfather’s Clock," which was written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work, and which Ives quoted in the second movement of his unfinished Third Orchestral Set. I have my own connections to this song as well, which I must have played hundreds, if not thousands of times as a boy playing in a fife and drum corps in New Jersey. 1986 calls upon this experience, making use of the snare drum part that I played as part of the drum corps. This material—presented at the beginning of the work—returns time and time again in different forms; sometimes developed, sometimes unchanged; sometimes supportive and sometimes intrusive. The original tune and it are heard in numerous incarnations—from the silly to the serious—throughout the five-minute duration of the piece. In this, it is meant to give the listener a sense of a hazy, but fond, memory. Issues of memory and nostalgia are very important to Ives’ work—and are increasingly so in mine. This is ultimately what this piece is about.
Lasting approximately 5 minutes, 1986 was commissioned by the New World Symphony as part of The Ives Effect: Musical Xchange, organized by Yuki Numata. It was premiered on January 30th, 2009 at the Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach, Florida.
David T. Little, Weehawken, NJ 12.06.08