Still Debussy (2006)
Instrumentation: solo piano
Written for the 2006 New Keys Festival.
Still Debussy is my contribution to the early school of minimalism. Though I tend to embrace the post-minimalist aesthetic in my compositions, I decided to write a minimalist piece using techniques passed down by the first generation of minimalist composers. While a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I was sitting in a practice room improvising on the opening chords and famous horn passage from Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” I then decided to write a minimalist composition based on a few simple chords from two of his famous works (Afternoon of a Faun, and Sirens from Nocturnes) as quotations from both pieces spread throughout. Andy Warhol’s “Twenty-five Colored Marilyns” and his notorious trademark for painting the Campbell soup formed an association in my mind with the timeless iconic photo of Debussy sitting at his work desk. The schools of “Pop Art” and “Minimalism” are somewhat related, and with this notion I created this music composition without any serious stylistic approach that is often required in concert music. I use the term “Still Debussy” since the composer himself was often associated with the artistic field of Impressionism, notably the painter Claude Monet.
Still Debussy was premiered by the pianist Regina Schaffer for the Bay Area Composers Circle Concert at the San Francisco Community Center on April 1, 2006. It had its East Coast Premiere by the composer himself at the DETOUR debut Concert Series in New York City on May 31, 2009, and also performed at The Forge, Camden, London on June 26, 2012.