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CREEPIE CRAWLIE

Here is a confession: I’m not a big fan of Christmas. For all the joy, relaxation, and warmth that we’re supposed to feel over the holidays, in recent years I have found myself relating more and more to The Grinch (whose song, "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is my favourite Christmas carol, I should add). Instead of celebrating that time of year the traditional way, if it were just up to me I’d probably spend most of my holiday unbothered on my own save for the crew of friendly spiders with whom I share my house.

I already knew I was done writing “nice” music for a while after other recent projects. So, in response to the months-long barrage of Christmas ads, Christmas jingles, Christmas concerts, Christmas meals, Christmas traffic, Christmas shopping, etc. etc. it is probably no surprise that my commission from Land’s End Ensemble found itself wanting to sound more like the Anti-Christ(mas). Instead of warmth and coziness, I wanted the music to sound like a cold sweat like you have just finished shovelling hundreds of pounds of snow for the second week in a row; instead of sweet desserts and savoury turkey dinners, I wanted things to sound bitter and sour like acid reflux after too much junk food and cheap beer; instead of inviting a jolly, fat, old saint down the chimney, I wanted the music to summon a cackling demon from the void.

It took very little deliberation to decide that the way I wanted to achieve this unholy aesthetic was by mixing a profane concoction of Baroque form and counterpoint with elements of serialism, heavy metal, and a handful of familiar nursery rhymes and jingles. The opening prelude starts with a cadenza inside the piano. The strings then introduce the piece's main tone row which weaves its way through noxious hexachordal harmonies and culminates in a heavy ballad reminiscent of a French overture. Following its retreat and a brief but suspenseful transition, the fugue begins with a swinging lilt as the trio scuttles their way through toccata-like episodes that unfold over seven-legged grooves.

 

Creepie Crawlie was commissioned by the Land’s End Ensemble for their 2023-2024 season as part of their residency at Mount Royal University Conservatory and premiered in Bella Concert Hall on May 4, 2024.

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