Marc Mellits, Splinter (2014) | Chicago premiere

Duration: 17 minutes
Instrumentation: oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon and bass clarinet

The movements:
Scarlet Oak
Sugar Maple
Black Ash
River Birch
Weeping Willow
Red Pine

The composer writes:
“I composed Splinter in 2014 for the quintet Splinter Reeds. The unique combination of this relatively new ensemble formation provided me with a wonderful palette of instruments. I was able to create sounds by using a fusion of instruments that often play together to form lines of sound within their combinations. The differing lines of the instruments fit like pieces of a puzzle and form the over-all tapestry of sound—each supplying a branch or leaf to form a musical tree. Splinter is in eight short movements that work together much like a Baroque suite. Trees can be magical to me: each movement, or ‘splinter,’ can be seen coming from or inspired by a different type of tree. ‘Weeping Willow,’ for example, bends and sways in the wind, while ‘Black Ash,’ one of the first trees to lose its leaves in the fall, musically wilts.”

About the composer:
Marc Mellits’ unique musical style is an eclectic combination of driving rhythms, soaring lyricism and colorful orchestrations. Often composing in the miniaturist style, in which works are comprised of short contrasting movements or sections, Mellits writes music that is frequently described by audiences as a visceral experience. Mellits studied at the Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, Cornell University and Tanglewood. His music has been played by major ensembles worldwide, and he has been commissioned by groups such as the Kronos Quartet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Duo Assad, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Eliot Fisk, Canadian Brass, Nexus Percussion, Debussy Quartet, Real Quiet, New Music Detroit, Four-In-Correspondence (National Symphony Orchestra), Musique en Roue Libre, Fiarì Ensemble, Percussions Claviers de Lyon, Third Coast Percussion, Talujon, the Society for New Music, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and the Albany Symphony’s Dog’s of Desire. Additionally, Mellits’ music has been performed, toured, and/or recorded by members of the Detroit Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New Millennium Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players and the American Modern Ensemble, among many others. Marc Mellits is an assistant professor of music at the University of Illinois at Chicago.