Book of Five
for Icebreaker and Orchestra
World Premiere American Composers Orchestra Carnegie Hall New York City March 2002
Conducted by Steven Sloane
Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, the Bochum Symphony and the
German Premiere Bochum Symphony
Steven Sloane conducting
This is the first in a new series of works featuring amplified and acoustic
combinations that includes the amplified opera Supermax and Skvera for Electric Guitar and Orchestra.
Book of Five is dedicated to the composer's friend and colleague Steven
Sloane. It was written for him and because of him. Book of E, the second movement, is dedicated to Philip Glass on his 65th Birthday, and Book of P, the fourth movement, is dedicated to ASCAP's Frances Richard.
Initially, Book of Five was inspired by Harold Bloom's The Book of J which posits that
the earliest author of the bible was a woman in King David's court. Events
both international and personal intervened, altering the content and intent
of the work, though the five movement structure remains. The five movements
1. Book of J
2. Book of E
3. Book of D - September 11, 2001
4. Book of P - September 18, 2001
5. Book of R
The composer writes:
"I began composing shortly before the Trade Center attack. After September
11, I felt I had to respond in some way through my work and in order to continue my work. This was not to be
a grand statement, but a deeply personal one. The central movement is
subtitled September 11, 2001 and features strings and chimes with the brass
players fanned out across the balcony. The soloists, Icebreaker, are
At the time my wife was 8 months pregnant. On September 18, 2001,
exactly one week after the attack, our son Lucas was born - five weeks early.
September 18 was also the postmark on the anthrax letter sent to NBC
News where my wife works. Had Lucas not been born then, she (and he) surely
would have gone through rounds of severe antibiotics not to mention the
possibility that they might have been exposed to anthrax. His birth
emphatically answered the tragedy of the week before with life. The fourth
movement, played by Icebreaker only, is his and includes fragments of songs
that I made up to sing to him.
I first heard Icebreaker at their New York debut in Town Hall over ten years
ago. No one who was there could forget their performance. Since that time I
wanted to create a large scale work for them and orchestra. James Poke, the
artistic director of the group, and I began talking about doing just this in
1998. Book of Five is the result. It's been a great joy writing for
them and hearing how they've dug their teeth into the music."
Icebreaker is a 12-piece British group, formed to play a loud, amplified,
rhythmic form of new music with diverse influences. The primary building
block of the repertoire is strongly articulated, often complex rhythm. The
lineup includes 2 Flutes, 2 Saxophones, 2 Keyboards, Electric Violin,
Electric Cello, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Accordian and Percussion.