Dirt to Gold (2014)




[Perc: Floor tom, Piccolo snare drum, Splash cymbal, Sandpaper blocks, & triangle (played by timpanist)]


Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra; Roger Kalia, conductor / 16 November 2014 / Bing Theater, LACMA, Los Angeles, USA


commissioned by the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra

"...there were possibilities within the limitations of everyday life, with the things that we look at that are disposable. Our lives can seem so limited and uneventful, but these things can be transformed. We can appoint ourselves to be -- to be alchemists, turning shit into gold." - Beck Hansen

Dirt to Gold tries to do just that, to take "worthless" sounds, sonic junk, and transform them into powerful, meaningful music. This transformation happens many times throughout the piece, and on many different levels. Abrasive thumps and squeaks crystallize into cool grooves, ever-shifting rhythms gradually settle into clear patterns, and aluminum foil makes several high-profile appearances in the orchestra.

When Roger Kalia approached me about writing a piece for the Debut Orchestra, my first task was to find an interesting connection between my own musical interests and that of Debut's home in Los Angeles. This connection came in the form of my teenage infatuation with the music of L.A.'s Beck Hansen, particularly his album Odelay. Inspired by both his music and ideas, I composed a work that marries Beck's rebellious energy with my own musical language.

Extra Beck Quotes:
"It's not some priceless object. It's something you're supposed to make noise on."
"There's a lot of experimenting going on, but there's also grooves. Without them, this would be...pretty abrasive"
"I appreciate acts that are bold. Even if they're completely misguided and overdone."

Full Video:

Online Perusal Score:

[Lake George Music Festival Orchestra / Roger Kalia, conductor]

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