Waterways: A Rochester Triptych
Waterways: A Rochester Triptych (1986)
Flute, cello, strings
Commissioned by the Rochester Chamber Orchestra
Premiere–Rochester Chamber Orchestra, David Fetler, cond., Rochester, NY 11/86
The parts to this work have been lost. Manuscript score on request. Contact DET
Waterways was composed during the summer of 1986 on commission from the Rochester Chamber Orchestra and its conductor, David Fetler, who wanted to feature my father, John Thomas, the orchestra’s principal flute, and my sister, Christine, a cellist. Waterways is not really a duo-concerto, for the element of conflict between solo and ensemble is secondary. David suggested that the work be based on the three major waterways—canal, river, lake—which surround Rochester, NY. I rather chose to focus on moods—meandering, flowing, shifting. Near the opening of the middle movement, solo instruments introduce a four-note motto-theme: G–E–E-flat–B-flat, a music symbol of Genesee (G–E–(n)Es–Se), which becomes the subject of variation.
The composer demonstrated more than a little talent for combining sonorities, keeping accompaniment out of the was of featured solo or duet lines, and orchestrating a natural dialogue between his father and sister. . . . From the long and sinuous cello solo that opened the Canal Song to the rushing waters of the Genesee Variants, ideas flowed naturally‚—and were abundant enough to sustain the 25-minute work. –Robert Palmer, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle