Tower of the Winds

for woodwind quintet
2004
7 minutes



performed by University of Michigan Graduate Wind Quintet

Program Note: The remarkable thing about a woodwind quintet as an ensemble is the stark sound created when the timbres of the instruments collide and combine. There is a certain intensity in this stratification of sound that drew me to writing for the ensemble. I was also interested in the quality of sound created by aerophones in general, which led me to ponder the Greek Gods of the Winds as a basis for the piece.

The Tower of the Winds, also known as the Horlogion of Andronikos, was built in Athens in the second century BCE and functioned as a weather vane, a sundial, and a water clock. On each of the eight sides there is a frieze depicting one of the Gods of the Winds, each facing their respective directions. The characteristics attributed to each of the Winds serve as a foundation for the piece, though there is no specific program of appearances. Highlighting the timbral differences between instruments, the piece contains many kaleidoscopic contrapuntal lines and melodic material interwoven between parts as the quality of energy and motion associated with each Wind is explored.