Tinicum Rhythms (1997)
Jay Reise is the composer of the opera Rasputin, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York City Opera in 1988. He has also written three symphonies (performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, among others), as well as numerous chamber works. He is currently working on a ballet based on Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant for the Philharmonia Orchestra (London).
In Tinicum Rhythms, he treats rhythmic figures as themes and motives which are then varied, developed, and counterpointed. This application of the traditional devices of tonal and modal counterpoint to rhythm was inspired by Reise’s study of Carnatic (South American) music.
The title of the work refers to the Tinicum National Environment Center located near the Phila-delphia International Airport. At this major bird migration center, the birds of the wild and the “birds” of humankind meet. The name “Tinicum” derives from the Delaware Indian word meaning “islands of the marsh.” The bouncy rhythms, often brash chatter, and layers of musical events in the piece are meant to suggest the teeming wildlife of the preserve (with its ducks, geese, herons, egrets, snakes, turtles, weasels, and muskrats), as well as the exuberant and zany “human-life” of the airport across the road.
Tinicum Rhythms is dedicated to jazz clarinetist and composer Jimmy Giuffre, Reise’s first composition teacher, and to Ricardo Averbach and the University of Pennsylvania Wind Ensemble. This will be the second performance of the piece.
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