Trio for Horn, Viola, and Harp

for horn, viola, and harp | 2016
I. Prelude
II. Lament
III. Toccata-Fantasy

The Trio for Horn, Viola, and Harp was written for my dear friend, AnneMarie Cherry. She asked me to compose a piece that she could play with two of her colleagues—they wanted to perform together but could not find repertoire for this instrumentation. Perhaps there are few pieces for this group of instruments (only one other that I'm aware of) because of inherent challenges with the instrumentation, particularly that each instrument occupies a similar registral space (or at least their “sweet spot” is close to the same register). The horn also possesses a much wider dynamic range than the viola and harp. These are issues I kept in mind as I composed to insure balance and clarity. But one of the wonderful advantages of bringing the horn, viola, and harp together is that each possesses a uniquely warm quality, which I have sought to exploit. Sometimes it is a gentle warmth and other times it is dark.

The themes and harmonic structures are drawn from the letters of the first names of each of the commissioning performers, and are consistent across all three movements. While not programmatic, each movement is titled in the attempt to capture the function or mood of that particular movement.