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High Velocity (2012)

For Piano

[ca. 6 1/2 minutes]

Winner of the 2015 Ithaca College International Heckscher Composition Prize

First prize at the 2015 The Ear debut concert in New York City

High Velocity was inspired by a motorcycle ride on the famous Angeles Crest Highway in Southern California. Known for its hairpin turns, dizzying heights, and (inadvisable) motorist speeds, Angeles Crest is one of the most exhilaration and challenging motorways in the United States.

In the same vein, High Velocity opens with quick, fast changing scales that exploit the entire range of the keyboard. These scales are then interrupted by a burst of chords before settling into the second, more lyric theme. This theme emerges in the lower range of the piano while the surrounding texture dances around the middle and high registers of the instrument. The section concludes with accented lower octaves and scales before ending in a flurry of rapidly alternating chords between the two hands, which leads into the development section.

There is a stretch of road along the route of Angeles Crest that runs straight and parallel to some majestic mountains, allowing the motorist to relax and admire the breath-taking scenery. In the development of High Velocity, there is a quiet passage where the piano texture becomes blurred and less active. A lyric, elongated and reflective melody emerges from this texture, representing the stillness of that beautiful stretch of highway. After this melody builds to a climax, the music returns to its energetic opening texture. The scales become increasingly active and the register moves progressively upward until the piece ends on the highest C of the piano’s keyboard.