Program Notes below (watch videos below or download/listen for free here)
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with outer space. My room as a kid had walls covered in images of planets, galaxies, and stars. The ceiling was covered in stars, so every night I would fall asleep gazing into the realm of space, wondering what could be out there. This sense of a bigger picture has always been in the back of my mind, and has lead to an attraction towards science fiction and the great exploration in science. This passion has faded over the years, and has been overshadowed by my love of music, especially that within the jazz idiom. However, for the culmination of my musical career in college I wanted to create something that spanned both of these areas, fusing them into a work that has evolved into The Kométés Suite.
The word comet came to the English language from Latin “cometes” from the Greek word komé, meaning “hair of the head”.” Aristotle first used the word kométés to label comets as “stars with hair.” This suite tells the story of a comet, unknown to mankind, that travels from the oort cloud on the edge of the solar system all the way to its final destination of the sun.
The oort cloud is home to many of the long term comets that are in constant orbit of the sun. It is from this area that most of the comets are actually sent into orbit, through a series of collisions and “mini-orbits” among large asteroids. This expansive area has yet to be explored by satellites, as it contains billions of comets, and is far to vast to be reached with current technology. The oort cloud lies approximately one light year (the distance light can travel within one year) from the Sun. As the comet gets closer to the edge of the cloud, the sun begins to pull it in, and gravity throws it into momentum.
The solar wind occurs when the sun ejects a stream of charge particles (plasma) from its upper atmosphere. This in term causes radiation to bombard the planets and anything else it comes into contact with. Earth’s magnetic charge of the core of the planet (which is composed of mostly Iron) creates a safety net around our planet, causing the solar radiation to stay away. However, the solar wind bombards everything in the solar system besides Earth, including the many comets that pass through it.
In astronomy, the term apsis refers to the greatest or least distance of elliptical orbit from the sun. As the comet gets closer to the sun, the orbit approaches the perihelion, the closest point of approach. The sun’s gravity is so strong at this point that the comet is sucked into it, burning up before it even gets close to the center of it, as the intense flames rip the comet apart.
The final movement of this suite is a hymn, acknowledging this incredible journey and taking a moment to step back and look at the unknown things that are still unexplored in the solar system. In a way, this composition comes to a whole, as content from the first movement is brought back in inverted retrograde, basically flipping the music both horizontally and vertically, creating a new melody that is still related to the originally one.
View this entire composition using the videos below or download for free here