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Composed: 2000

Length: 8 minutes

Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (1=metal shaker, wood block, suspended cymbal, splash cymbal, cowbells, 4 tom-toms, washboard; 2=vibraslap, hi-hat, ratchet, 4 small drums, suspended cymbals, triangle; 3=tambourine, xylophone, castanets, suspended cymbal), piano, and strings

About this Piece

Commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for its 100th Anniversary Season, Timepiece was premièred on February 17, 2000, under the direction of Andrew Litton. 

“I entitled the work Timepiece, not only for its connection to the celebration of special events marking the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s 100th anniversary and the beginning of a new millennium, but also for the manner in which musical time shapes the work. The piece begins slowly, ‘before’ time, in a womb-like, subjective, holding place. And then a clock-like pulse emerges, takes control, and provides the driving force behind a sustained, highly energized second section of about six minutes. 

Much of my recent thinking about music is informed by the writings of Carl G. Jung who, in the words of Anthony Storr, ‘felt that the whole energy of mental functioning’ sprang from the tension between the oppositions of conscious and unconscious, of thought and feeling, of mind and body, of objectivity and subjectivity. So too have the integration and reconciliation of opposing elements become important aspects of my work. The frequent use of circular patterns, or ostinatos, offers both the possibility of suspended time and the opportunity for continuous forward movement. Carefully controlled pitch systems and thematic manipulations provide a measure of objectivity and reason, while kinetic rhythmic structures inspire bodily motion. Discipline yields to improvisation, and perhaps most importantly, humor takes its place comfortably alongside the grave and earnest.” —Cindy McTee