Delayed Gratification

…is my middle name. Lucky I have a glacial attention span. After 15 years of working intermittently with the Relache ensemble, I finally got to hear the rest of my Planets last night, and I’m so happy with them. I’m posting mp3s for all the movements, at least until the recording comes out in the fall. There are a few patches from rehearsal takes due to note flubs and one violent stream of audience coughing:


The whole piece lasts 70 minutes and change. I recommend reading the program notes to understand how the process of each movement depicts the astrological force involved. The 35 MB score, if you’re that interested, is here.
I’m tremendously grateful to the Relache ensemble for keeping faith in the project for as long as I did. Four of them – oboist Lloyd Shorter, bassist Douglas Mapp, bassoonist Chuck Holdeman, and keyboardist John Dulik – were in the original ensemble I worked with in Seattle back in 1994, and it’s been fun every few years to pick up where we left off as though no time had passed. None of them seem to age, though I certainly have. The newer members are flutist Michele Kelly, violist Sarah Sutton, percussionist Chris Hanning, and saxist Bob Butryn, all dynamite players and a pleasure to work with. I must also say, though I shouldn’t, that I’m pleased and relieved at the consistency of quality and style of movements written from 1994 to 2008; from the beginning I had a pretty firm idea how each movement would go, and I never swerved from my original conception (see long attention span, above). Aside from the two completed chamber operas of my Hudson River Trilogy (one of which hasn’t yet been performed), it’s my longest work to date. It’s difficult to get a ten-movement work performed. I guess they don’t do Turangalila very often, either.


  1. richard says

    Really nice! By any chance, are you a fan of Milhaud’s “Creation” Maybe it’s just the sax, but it does, at times, seem to have and updated “twisted” French quality. (I mean this as a very big compliment)
    KG replies: Thanks! I’m a big fan of Milhaud, but wasn’t aware of any influence here. My piece New World Coming does owe its form and mood to Milhaud’s Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

  2. says

    Kyle, great set of pieces here, I enjoy seeing new work from you.
    Just a couple of programme-note-based questions:
    You wrote, “music has not progressed since Holst, in the sense of having improved, the new superceding the old”.
    I completely understand your meaning in this – and actually it applies to pretty much everything artistic – it is now politically incorrect to suggest that old things can be replaced. I just wonder whether it diminishes the *importance* of 20th century work, be it an improvement or not.
    Ignoring the second half of the sentence, it’s obvious to me that music has ‘progressed’ an awful lot (to some good places too – Just Intonation being one, future interactive performance being another). And although we are saying goodbye to the Composer as Specialist, we are saying hello to the Composer as Cultural Detritus, and I hope that people at least realise this and try to do something about it. I’d hate to only have Holst. But anyway, this may be of no consequence.
    More importantly, I wonder if I could ask you what motivated you to write an astrologically-minded piece, if anything other than Holst’s model.
    As a kid, I used to think he was writing piece about the planets themselves (I think everyone does). To find out the true distant sense of mysticism that lies behind them was an immense and sobering disappointment – in some ways I felt personally insulted by this man who lived a long time ago who I don’t know.
    My apologies if you are one of those people that takes Astrology seriously. I’m not one of those people, it seems like Barnum statements with some mystical jargon thrown in. But I may have overstepped my mark.
    Just an extra thing – I think the text on your site can be a bit difficult to read with the background images (certainly on my screen it is).
    Again, thanks very much for the post – I always enjoy hearing your work.
    KG replies: Music has certainly explored some good territory in the last century. By progress I simply meant that today’s music is not automatically better than music of a century ago because of being more “advanced” somehow. And my views on astrology are pretty nuanced and explained at greater length here:
    Anything else I could say in a shorter space would be less accurate. But thanks!

  3. says

    I’m a big fan of this work and share your happiness about the “end” of the task – which is for all of us a new beginning.
    Did you conceive the whole to have its parts necessarily played in this order?
    KG replies: Thanks, Alfredo. Yes, the order is pretty important to me.