MUSIC

 

THE HIGH CASTLE

 

IN 

 

YEAR

2015

 

INSTRUMENTATION

Orchestra

2(2.picc)222/2220/timp+2/

hp/str

 

DURATION

14 minutes

 

COMMISSIONED BY

Peter Askim and the

Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra

 

FIRST PERFORMANCE 

Novermber 1, 2015

Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra 

Peter Askim, conductor

Raleigh, NC, USA

PROGRAM NOTE

Known for his profound tales of science fiction, Philip K. Dick offers a morbid and terrifying alternate history in his novel Man in the High Castle. Set in a post-World War II United States, the Axis of Evil (not the Allied forces) are victors and the history of the United States and of the world are thus severely and terrifyingly reversed. The book weaves several stories of struggle and politics in a joint Japan-Nazi occupied America.

 

In Music in the High Castle, I've strived to capture the bleak sense of dread if histories were reversed. The musical atmosphere is mysterious and stark with an ominous formal arch meant to allude to a dystopian history. There are two main musical melodies, a hopeful, heroic and anthem-like melody empathizing with an American dream, and a disjointed and dissonant fanfare symbolizing the Axis of Evil. These two melodies are always in confrontation. At first separated they gradually merge into a musical struggle, one trying to uniformly control and restrain, the other struggling to break free.

 

The work is dedicated to the memory of film composer James Horner, whose film-music greatly influenced my musical beginnings. While the title is a variation of the book title and informs the dystopian atmosphere of the work, it also aptly describes Horner’s existential ability to tap and bring fourth the emotion and drama of the film screen. In Homage, I’ve used several permutations of a Horner motif, a baroque wedge-like chromatic figure, often found in his war and dystopian film scores.