A vivid riddle 2012
1 mvt | 5 min
piano (4-hands) and string quartet

single print license


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Premiered by

The National Middle School Honor Choir

commissoned by

American Choral Directors Association

About this Piece

When Anthony Trecek-King originally approached me to write a piece for the National Junior High / Middle School Honor Choir, my imagination immediately went to “Holi,” the Hindu festival that takes place every spring in India. During this holiday, people throw colored powders and fragrant water upon each other in celebration of the arrival of spring. (You can Google “Holi” to find images of the many-colored aftermath!)

For this occasion, I wanted to compose something that could celebrate harmony in our ears in the same that Holi celebrates color in our eyes. So, I went to Pantone, the company that is responsible for the world’s most creative color names, and searched their website for names that avoided the ordinary and captured the most inventive. After choosing about 1,200 names, I narrowed it down to 180 that traverse the entire color wheel, from the lightest pastels to the darkest shades. These names are listed in the background on the front cover of this score. You might have to do some sleuthing to figure them all out.

Before composing this piece, I arranged the Pantone color names into 15 wheels of 12 colors each. The first wheels, when sung, alternate with nearly-white and almost-black hues. With each ensuing wheel, the colors grow in saturation (as the accompanying instruments grown in filigree) toward the vivid rainbow at the end. I hope to find a way for the audience to experience this visual effect (perhaps as a projection), however, it isn’t really necessary. The names of the colors, when quickly read in a list, create kind of poetry — one that creates profound beauty while referring to the quirky little things that surround us in our daily lives.

Text Credit

180 Pantone color names, and verses by the composer