A few months ago I asked my friend and colleague Justin Emerich if he would be willing to record my short fanfare Spiral for eight trumpets. Not only did he say yes, but he asked a few of his friends to help… It turned out…REALLY well. 😁
Michael Sachs – Principal Trumpet, Cleveland Orchestra
Adam Luftman – Principal Trumpet, San Francisco Opera & Ballet
Michael Tiscione – Associate Principal Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
David Gordon – Principal Trumpet, Seattle Symphony
Billy Hunter – Principal Trumpet, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Justin Emerich – Associate Professor of Trumpet, Michigan State University
Mark Maliniak – 4th/Utility Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Jack Sutte – 2nd Trumpet, Cleveland Orchestra
And special thanks to Patrick Oliverio for the video & editing!
Tyler Austin and the Maryland Chamber Winds commissioned Kairos for their 2020 virtual season. They assembled this performance remotely, with each player recording their part from a different location.
Austin Smith, oboe | Brian Do, clarinet | Jeffrey Leung, alto sax. | Tyler Austin, bassoon | Danny Mui, bass cl.
2020 has been a strange and difficult year. The loneliness of time in quarantine is unlike anything I have experienced. Time seems to travel differently, perhaps more slowly at times and at other times more quickly—its arrow seems jagged, bent, and off course. Kairos is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment. It is a different kind of time than Chronos, which is our more conscious and common understanding of time, measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, and so forth. In the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy Kairos describes the intersection of the Liturgy with the Infinite—with God. An integral aesthetic principle of cathedrals is an attempt to sonically connect with something massive, something larger than ourselves—the Infinite. Bissera Pentcheva, an art historian at Stanford University, writing about the Hagia Sophia (built in 537 as the largest Christian Church in the Byzantine Empire), translates a 6th-century description of the building by Paul the Silentiary in this way: “human action…brings into presence the divine reaction, the divine voice…in a sense that is the reverberation of the space: After the human voice stops singing, the building continues.”
Many concert halls share a similar sonic aesthetic principle. I miss these spaces. I miss the resonance of concert halls and churches. I miss the energy and excitement when people gather together and can not only hear but also feel the air molecules moving around them, and they can see how and why and by whom these sounds are made. I miss the way in which these spaces activate sound waves, sending them bouncing frenetically from wall to wall, arch to edge, and then gently dissolve—each molecule hitting another, each collision becoming slightly less energized than the last until only a shadow of the sound remains. Then, even the shadow disappears, and profound silence inevitably crawls out of the cracks and crevices of these cavernous spaces and becomes a fast and fizzy flood, a cool, fresh bedsheet of air molecules draped over us. We feel the heaviness of sound in its sudden absence. Its weight in the silence. And then we remember the silence before sound. It was a different silence. It felt different. Or maybe we felt different?
I miss simply sharing these spaces—these experiences—with other people. With friends. With family. With acquaintances. With strangers. There is something very special about sharing sound in a particular time and place. This piece is my humble attempt to weave the threads of these ideas and of our disconnected realities into a single strand—a shared moment—and to sing a space—our time and space—into resonance.
Watch David’s interview with MCW’s saxophonist Jeffrey Leung here.
 New York Times, August 6, 2020, “How a Historian Stuffed Hagia Sophia’s Sound Into a Studio”
Unquiet Hours received the 2019 Sousa/Ostwald Prize from the American Bandmasters Association.
Listen to the United States Air Force Band’s extraordinary performance of Unquiet Hours below.
United States Air Force Band; Colonel Don Schofield, conductor
Unquiet Hours was commissioned by the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.
Maestro Thomas Heuser and the San Juan Symphony have commissioned David to write a new work to be paired with Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony “Eroica” on February 22 and 23, 2020.
Read Lawrence Cosentino’s entire review of Their Eyes Are Fireflies, David’s new concerto for trombone and orchestra for Ava Ordman, in the Lansing City Pulse.
The words ‘introspection’ and ‘trombone concerto’ are seldom heard together. Let’s work on that. Symphonic fireworks and cataclysms are great, but Thursday’s Lansing Symphony concert featured something very different — a profound meditation on life’s mysteries, issuing in low tones from a long metal tube…This was deeply personal music, very different from the flashy back-and-forth volleys that fill most violin or piano concertos. The pure, coppery tones curling out of Ordman’s instrument went up your back, into your neck and straight up the base of your brain…The music was constantly on the verge of resolving into a juicy melody or sweet series of chords — i.e., an easy answer — but it never did…It’s no wonder the seemingly archaic concerto form has lasted so long. It has evolved from a way to show off one musician’s virtuosity against a fancy backdrop to something much deeper – a perfect platform for playing out the relationship between a soul and the universe around it…The concerto itself is a fabulous mystery that deserves to be heard again.
David will serve as a mentor composer along with Bright Sheng, Derek Bermel, and Margaret Brouwer for the American Composers Orchestra EarShot Readings with the Grand Rapids Symphony, September 25-30.
David is the recipient of the 38th annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize. Selected from 140 entries judged anonymously by a panel of conductors, the Prize was awarded for Cyclotron, a 10-minute work for winds and percussion.
The Prize is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally. A jury of conductors selects the winning score.