“Orbit: A Symphonic Fantasy”, was inspired by explorers and visionaries throughout history. Being moved by the final flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program that ended on July 21, 2011, I wanted to create a tribute of sorts to the spirit of adventure, courage, and heroic exploration perfectly described by the sixteenth century explorer, Ferdinand Magellan: “The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore…It is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors ... to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown." Orbit: A Symphonic Fantasy is not meant to be specific to space exploration, but rather in broader terms to those who greet the unknown in any form with courage and determined heroism. In this sense, the space shuttle and the fine work being done at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the Mars Science Laboratory is simply the latest in a long line of attempts to push our boundaries and understanding. One could argue (and I’m a believer of this) that it is in our nature to reach beyond our grasp. That is what I attempted to convey in this music. Orbit was premiered on November 18, 2012, by the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra with David Weiss conducting. It is currently played at the California Science Center (home of the Space Shuttle Endeavour) as part of their IMAX presentations.
“Solemn Prologue” is an introspective piece; a poignant and somber orchestral opening develops into a virtuoso solo violin cadenza in the middle section. The piece concludes with a dramatic procession for string orchestra.
“Mythos” is a symphonic poem based on music I composed for a CGI animated short film. The film is about the rivalry between two powerful mythical gods who battle for their realm. In the film version, I frequently made use of six heralding trumpets to announce the arrival and climactic battles of the ancient gods of Greek mythology. Working on this film continued to inspire me and I kept on writing themes and expanding on the ideas of the music even after I had completed the project. The Mythos suite heard here is based on some of these themes arranged into a concert overture with some new material added. This work was premiered in 2008 and is heard here in its 2011 revision.
“A Fragment” uses electronic elements along with a symphony orchestra. As the name implies, this is a fragment from a large piece that combines live and artificial elements hopefully in a seamless fashion. The overall texture is unsettled due to aleatoric musical elements incorporating random chance and unspecified rhythms even within a section.
“Adagio” Excerpt from Symphony No. 1: this is an early work and hear an excerpt from the forty minute symphony. My first concert work was a symphony written when I was a teenager and I have always been drawn to the form, however, this work is currently withdrawn and I hope to revisit it at a future date.
“Ancient Dreams” was the second work I had premiered with the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony. The World Premiere performance took place on November 12, 2010, with the orchestra conducted by music director, Ivan Shulman. The live premiere performance is heard here. I was inspired by an article I read from The British Museum about an ancient Egyptian papyrus called The Dream Book. This papyrus dated from the 13th Dynasty (1279-1213 BC) and attempted to suggest interpretations of dreams from those ancient times. Long ago, dreams were considered to be divine predictions - messages from the gods that could foretell of good fortunes or impending disasters. It is my hope that this music connects with our audience in a way that is both relevant and contemporary. Having played with the LADSO for several years, I have found our conductor, Ivan, and the orchestra to be wonderfully suited to my musical voice and I was honored to have this group premiere my work and play it so beautifully.
Several recurring themes from The Dream Book resonated with me – universal themes of hopes, fears, determination, and ultimate triumph. In composing Ancient Dreams, I selected three concepts from this papyrus and symbolically set them to music with a unifying theme that develops from mystery to a sense of determined heroism.
The three sections are:
1.) Windows - a mysterious build up reflecting how people in ancient times believed the messages and symbols within dreams were often fearful images.
2.) Moon - a yearning yet hopeful lyrical section that builds to grand climax reflecting the desire to be forgiven for past misdeeds if one sees the moon in their dreams.
3.) Sphinx - a bombastic and climactic section focusing on a dream of uncovering the sphinx. The sphinx was a symbol of power, strength, and a foreboding guardian to malevolent spirits in the afterlife.
Please visit http://www.karelm.com for more information about me and my music.