The Burnished Tide

The time of day when the sun is low in the horizon—casting long shadows and imparting richly colored tones—is called the “golden hour” by artists and photographers. In an attempt to capture an image before this optimal light is lost for the day, the artist works with great urgency to maximize the limited time. Inspired by this notion, The Burnished Tide is intended to portray this sense of excited urgency with quasi-perpetual motion and continuous energy, as if the music only has a brief time to live its life.

The piece is constructed around a single harmonic sonority: a twelve-note chord that consists of four three-note triads, two minor and two major. This twelve-note chord is played as a single sonority at the beginning and end of the piece but the intervening sections feature an unfolding of the twelve-note chord into its triadic components.

The work flows in a single arc, consisting of distinct but connected sections of intensity, introspection, playfulness, and aggressiveness. The word “tide” in the title is more of a reference to a length of time—the period of optimal light—than the flow of water, though the imagery of advancing and receding waves can certainly be found in the music. “Burnished” literally means “polished by rubbing” or secondarily, “enhanced or perfected.” Utilizing a variety of orchestral colors and instrumentations, my intent is to support this imagery by projecting a sense of relentless energy and unbridled excitement.




14 minutes


3 Flutes (3rd doubles piccolo)
3 Oboes (3rd doubles English Horn)
3 Clarinets in B-flat (3rd doubles Bass Clarinet)
3 Bassoons (3rd doubles Contrabassoon)
4 Horns in F
3 Trumpets in C
2 Trombones
Bass Trombone
3 Percussion


Aspen Music Festival, Robert Spano, director


July 23, 2014
Benedict Music Tent, Aspen, CO
Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Robert Spano (cond.)


July 16, 2015
Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Joann Faletta (cond.)


2013 Jacob Druckman Prize, Aspen Music Festival
2015 Edward T. Cone Composition Institute


wqxr broadcast

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Joann Faletta (cond.)