Astro, A Symphony of the Stars

Astro is a work based on the astrology charts of myself and 4 good friends. After having these friends discuss the inner workings of astrology as an art, I got to thinking – there are 12 pitches in a chromatic scale and 12 signs in astrology. So I took the 5 charts and got pitch material then tried to make each section really bring out the character of these people.

T – Cancer Rising

This is an autobiographical movement. I use the tones that were given to me in the order they appear to emulate some of my favorite composers – Bartok, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and even a little Strauss. The buildup and explosion very much sounds like I do if I were to get very angry. While I’ve worked hard to cull this anger, every now and again it rears it’s ugly head – of course in the style of Shostakovich.

J – Autumn Scherzo

J is a dear friend who is not as tall as some and has fiery red hair. She often wears green and brown and is a trained dancer. Her sprightly character and love of “tongue-clicks” make an appearance in this scherzo. The pitches again come in the order they were given, and the bass line and harmonies are all just re-organizations of the same pitches.

R РThe Faeries Harp 

R stands for the last name of two of my favorite people. They are the type of people that you can go sit in a room with for 3 hours and have no plans but still have the time of your life doing…well nothing. They are firm believers in the Mystic, and as such their charts gave wonderful material to work with. One sister’s chart had only 6 notes total. I organized these 6 notes into 2 3-note chords, which alternate back and fourth slowly, while the other sister’s tone-row is all the other melodic material.

G РThe Great Fugue 

G commissioned this work and asked for a symphony that used the same instrumentation as Peter and the Wolf. This last movement describes him more than I could have possibly hoped. A grand fugue opens with the tenor voices, lead by the trombone – his instrument. This man, who at the time was a mere 23 years old, could easily have been mistaken for a mid-40s college professor. He regularly plays the organ, so I’ve asked the orchestra to sound as an organ while playing this fugue that at times is Hindemith, Beethoven, Bach, and Burns. A build to a great finale in F major quickly turns very chromatic as the “organist” slams down their fists on any note they want before yielding to a unison F.

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