Wythe (2020)

alto flute/C flute, B♭ bass clarinet, pedal harp, 2 violins, viola, cello; duration: ca. 5’30”

For our spring project in the LA Phil Composer Fellowship Program, my cohort was assigned to write mixed septets (flute, clarinet, harp, and string quartet) on the theme of architecture. The title of my piece, “Wythe“, refers to the Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. This building was designed by one of my ancestors, and my grandparents’ house is a replica of it. Having been familiar with this architecture my whole life, it has a special place in my heart. However, although George Wythe himself was an abolitionist, the house was undoubtedly built and served by slaves for many years. It was my coming to terms with this awful fact that drove me to write this piece, which explores the conflict between the building’s beauty and the horrors of its past.

This piece was written for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program. It was originally scheduled to be performed at the REDCAT theater of Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 6, 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the performane was cancelled, so the video above uses a MIDI mockup of the piece, created in Sibelius.