Trio for Flute, Viola, and 'Cello (2005)

1st movement
2nd movement
3rd movement

view score excerpt

Violist Nadia Sirota commissioned this piece and premiered it with Alex Sopp (Flute) and Clarice Jensen ('Cello) in her recital at Juilliard's Morse Hall on March 30, 2005.


The Trio for Flute, Viola and ‘Cello was written for violist Nadia Sirota. Its title comes from a book of prints by artist Caitlin Swaim about a tiny cemetery in a remote and barren part of Western Colorado . The prints express a sense of the vast and intimidating sweep of this terrain and at the same time explore the relationships between individuals, families and landscapes.

The trio is cast in a traditional 3 movement form (fast – slow – fast) which is in many respects cyclical, despite its outwardly developmental and linear nature. Although much of the music is marked by contrapuntal textures in which all three players share an equal role, the Violist is really the protagonist of the piece. In the 2nd movement, there's an extended cadenza-like passage for viola with sparse accompaniment in the alto-flute and ‘cello. This is the heart of the work, summarizing much of the piece's musical discourse; it is also where the music comes closest to a “tone-painting” translation of the prints. I'm so grateful to Nadia Sirota, Alex Sopp, and Clarice Jensen for all of their hard work and dedication in bringing this piece to life.