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String Orchestra



18 minutes



I. Inferno

II. Purgatorio

III. Paradiso



South Salem High School

String Orchestra



 July 15, 2012

Aspen Music Festival,


Conducted by 

Gevorg Gharabekyan




Commissioned by the South Salem High School Orchestra, The Divine Comedy Trilogy is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s literary classic, The Divine Comedy. Each movement explores the psychology of Dante’s journey through the inferno, puragatory, and finally paradise using the works of Gesualdo, Dowland, and Machaut symbolizing musical encounters in the spiritual realms.


The Inferno begins with a quote from Gesualdo’s O vose omnes, the work is interrupted with a sudden burst into a macabre-folk like dance. Structured as a concerto grosso, several solos are pitted against the tutti ensemble with ferocity and craze where hints of Gesualdo’s composition gradually emerge from the diabolic texture.

Purgatorio utilizes John Dowland’s Lachrimae as the representation of Dante’s journey through purgatory. The opening chant-like melodic line represents the inferno and the souls that remain in the lower region. While Dowland’s music is reiterated by a solo quartet, it is interrupted by a short interlude in the upper strings evoking the heavens above. As the final phrase of the Lacrimae comes to cadence, the full force of the orchestra is summoned in yearning, an evocation of the souls outcast by both the inferno and heavens. The orchestra recedes from its anguish and a brief chorale signifies Dante’s ascent into Paradiso.


This final movement is written in the style of Guillaume de Machaut. Using a motive from Messe de Nostre Dame, the piece begins with high strings and gradually introduces each section until the final chorale section signifies the heavens and it's luminous magnificence. 


Winner of the 2014 Arizona Pro Arte Composition Competition

Winner of the 2010 Merle J. Isaac Composition Competition



February 20, 2015: J. Laiten Weed Honor Orchestra/South Dakota All-State Orchestra, conducted by Richard Rognstad

April 10, 2014: Arizona Pro Arte, conducted by Timothy Verville

March 1, 2012: University of South Dakota String Orchestra, conducted by Richard Rognstad

September 11, 2010: The Orchestra Unleashed, conducted by Gustav Hoyer

September 12, 2010: The Orchestra Unleashed, conducted by Gustav Hoyer

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