Sonata for Piano and Guitar


Piano and guitar–13”

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Sonata for Piano and Guitar

Piano, guitar
Duration: 13′
Premiere: Heather MacLaughlin and Alan Johnston, May 10, 2014, Minneapolis.
Score and part included.

Program note

piano and guitar performers with composer

Heather McLaughlin, DET and Alan Johnston, 2014

Pianist Heather MacLaughlin contacted me in winter 2013 about writing a concert work for her to play and record with her husband, guitarist Alan Johnston. At first I was hesitant: the two instruments—one plucked by hand, the other hammered—are similar in attack but hard to balance. There is little repertoire for the combination. But I had enjoyed working with Alan on Thrum when he was a member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. And Heather is one of the most elegant pianists in the region. That July I wrote a piece that explores the varied sonorities of the two instruments. I was delighted to discover that the letters of Heather’s name correspond to the open strings of the guitar, E-A-D-G-B-E:

H (B German for the note in solfège)-E-A-T 
H-E-R (Re: D in solfège)

That’s where I began, but as a texture, not a theme. The result is a true sonata: an essay, barcarolle and tuneful rondo that finds a luminous climax. Heather asked for “a beautiful, lyrical, song-like piece that celebrates where we are in life,” a tall order, but one that was a pleasure to aspire to. Composition of this work was supported in part by the American Composers Forum through the 2013 McKnight Composer Fellowship Program.

Additional information

Weight .5 lbs


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