Play: Level 1
Length: c. 13 minutes
Orchestration: 2 flutes (both = piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (vibraphone [with bow], 4 bongos, 5 temple blocks, 3 splash cymbals, 5 tin cans, kick drum [muffled with blanket], brake drum, washboard; crotales, 5 log drums, 4 opera gongs, 4 small tom-toms, kick drum [muffled with blanket], spring coil, triangle, guiro, tam-tam [large], slapstick; xylophone, 4 wood blocks, 5 temple blocks, 5 cowbells, kick drum [muffled with blanket], ratchet, slapstick, bass drum), piano, and strings
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: February 25, 2016, Gustavo Dudamel conducting
A lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural, Andrew writes music that is often inspired by patterns and textures he encounters in the visual world. He has a passion for musical notation, its long history, and the many ways its boundaries can be pushed to find new modes of expression. He also loves collaborating with performers to explore the act of interpreting notation and he is fascinated by the translation of written symbols into physical gesture and sound.
Andrew is increasingly interested in story telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from cinema, television, and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive, often fragmented and highly energetic voice has been cited in The New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the Los Angeles Times for its “Chaplinesque” wit. (from Andrew Norman’s website)
A three-movement work, Play was commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and premiered in Boston in May, 2013, with Gil Rose conducting. (The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under Gustavo Dudamel, will perform the complete work next season.) The composer wrote the following note:
“Levels 1 and 3 can be performed separately. I am fascinated by how instruments are played, and how the physical act of playing an instrument becomes potent theatrical material when we foreground it on stage at an orchestra concert. I’m also fascinated by how the orchestra, as a meta-instrument, is played, how its many moving parts and people can play with or against or apart from one another.
“While the world ‘play’ certainly connotes fun and whimsy and a child-like exuberance, it can also hint at a darker side of interpersonal relationships, at manipulation, control, deceit, and the many forms of master-to-puppet dynamics one could possibly extrapolate from the composer-conductor-orchestra-audience chain of communication. Much of this piece is concerned with who is playing whom. The percussionists, for instance, spend a lot of their time and energy ‘playing’ the rest of the orchestra (just as they themselves are ‘played’ by the conductor, who in turn is ‘played’ by the score). Specific percussion instruments act as triggers, turning on and off various players, making them (sometimes in a spirit of jest, sometimes not) play louder or softer, forwards or backwards, faster or slower. They cause the music to rewind and retry things, to jump back and forth in its own narrative structure, and to change channels entirely, all with an eye and ear toward finding a way out of the labyrinth and on to some higher level.”