For Iona

I have a new niece! Well, she's almost two months old now, but it's never too late to talk about really special things. My sister Melissa's baby girl, Iona Maxcine Brown, was born on Oct. 13th at 12:57 a.m.

After the strings establish the theme in G major, the oboe picks it up in a new key, supported by the clarinets (0:30). The harp doubles them in order to make the attack of each individual note stronger, and to highlight the contrast between the two sections.


The moment I was most satisfied with in this piece is the most simple moment - right after the big tutti. The orchestra fades and a solo violin repeats the last phrase of the tune with the harp (0:54). The violinist nailed the line, and it created a very special, intimate moment in the room when we reached that part in every take. This piece convinced me of the power that contrast creates in music. Sometimes one violin can say more than an entire orchestra.

I also had a recording session with an NYU orchestra the week before as part of my Advanced Orchestration class, and since I knew the event of Iona's birth was just over the horizon, I decided to write a piece for her.

"For Iona" is scored for double woodwinds, two horns, harp, and strings. I wanted to write a melody that was simple, but one that grew. I also wanted to slightly reference my family's Irish roots. Perhaps the chords sound a little more English than Irish, but we're all Americans so details are details are details.

There are a couple key moments in the piece that are worth highlighting:

Originally, during the big tutti (everyone plays) moment of this piece (0:44), I wrote the melody in octaves in the violins. While this is a common, "tried-and-true" technique, it wasn't giving the passage the magic it needed. It felt safe in a dull way. I chose to use a tremolo technique in the violins to pull the melody forward while giving it a delicate, fluttering texture.

Congratulations Melissa and Eric Brown! I can't wait to meet you Iona :)

I'd love to hear what you think - come to my Facebook page and send me a message! And if you are a music nerd like me and want to see the score, just ask!