Upon receiving the commission to write a new work for the SFA wind ensemble, I began exploring different ideas about the tone, form, and style of the piece. While attending a film-scoring workshop in New York City, I took an evening off to attend the American Ballet Theater’s production of Elliot Goldenthal’s Othello. Late in the ballet, there was a remarkable scene set to the evocative and inflammatory music of a tarantella. It was this idea that captured my imagination and led to this work.
A tarantella is a dance from southern Italy with a history so mixed with myth and legend that it is difficult to find the truth of its origins. Outlawed by the church, it was supposedly a frenzied dance in compound meter in which the dancer, through frenetic and hysterical gyrations, would purge themselves of the poison of the tarantula (hence the name). I took this evocative premise and added to it the exotic melodies and harmonies found in the octatonic scale. The resulting piece is unlike my other works and has opened up for me a new musical landscape that I am eager to continue to explore in future pieces.
This work was premiered by Fred J. Allen and the SFA Wind Ensemble at the 2008 Annual Convention of the Texas Music Educators' Association (TMEA).