for piano and narrator
For the Love of Bees is a six-part suite. It was originally composed for Dr. Margaret Lucia in a solo piano version with four parts in 2010. I expanded the piece in 2019 at the request of the director of the Piano on the Rocks Festival, Sandrine Erdely-Sayo as well as adding a spoken narrative. The idea for the piece was generated by my growing awareness of hive dieoffs because of Colony Collapse Disorder. As I learned more about this problem, including interviewing bee specialists at the US Department of Agriculture, I also learned more about their social behavior and their critical role as pollinators.
For each section, I used some of the striking characteristics of bees as a 'natural' metaphor along with a particular technical challenge. In turn, each section explores a particular compositional/harmonic issue, in the manner of the traditional etude. In various sections, I was also responding to the piano compositions of Debussy, Chopin, Bartok, Messaien and the great Cuban jazz pianist, Chucho Valdés.
"Swarms" uses rapidly iterated clusters of 3-7 notes - a sort of ‘megatrill’ - in a variety of textures in a free atonal musical language. "Sting" is based on rapidly executed lines in step-wise motion contrasted with 'stinging' dyads and rapid ostinati; the perfect 4th is the core interval. “Honey Queen” is based on slow 6-9 note sustained chords with combinations of 2nds, 4ths, 7ths, all in a protracted sense of unresolved stasis. “Solitary” is a romantic and lyrical exercise in chromatic quasi-tonal harmony. “As Abelhas Assessinas” or “Assassin Bees” is a fast-pulsed and syncopated exploration of virtuosic cross- hand technique with jazz-influenced chords. "Ode to Bees and Their Keepers" takes the symmetry of the hive as a metaphor for expanding and contracting figures. It begins at the center of the instrument. These figures expand outward, contract and move variously through the range of the keyboard until the entire range of the instrument is sounding. The last section incorporates echoes of earlier sections – the megatrills of "Swarms", lush chords of “Honey Queen” and “Solitary”, and cross- hand technique of “As Abelhas Assessinas.”