Selected as finalist in the 2019 American Prize, Composition (Instrumental Chamber Music)
Amy Glick, Violin Jack Ballard, composer, keyboards
We have all experienced that moment where the material world seems like a fairy tale. Mornings that have that cool, but not cold, breeze accompanied by a warming sun. Mr Florczak reminded me that there was originally a young man leaning against a tree on the right that was deleted for this version. In my opinion, the sense of reflection in the woman actually enhances the romance. The movement begins ordinarily enough, using #11 chords and a Lydian scale to bring out that quality of the ethereal. The violin has double stops, complimenting the drone in the left hand of the piano and of the low strings. Occasionally, a chromatic melody is used harmonically, as in other movements, based on the concepts of “hyper-extended chords” explored in my harmonics research.
Summer: Twilight Reflections
This movement is based on a theme from my ballet The Castle: Redemption. Evening arrives in the summer and day creatures sleep; others awake as daylight and warmth fade. There seems little to do except enjoy the company of the other, in hope or in disappointment. Nighthawks mark the silence in the bright moonlight, swooping after insects: it is bright enough for walking in contemplation, comfortable enough for sitting and remembering. The opening is a melancholy solo violin, its four-note motif consistently present in the piano, and is handed around between solo violin, string orchestra and horn. The harmony changes with the mood and ends on a happy comfortable chord, as dark early morning approaches.
Initially, this was a waltz, but in the end it was decided that a jig (or “gigue”) better portrayed the celebration of the season that this painting’s colors implied. Again, we see the leopard and summer flowers unwilted in a season known for its passing of all things. Inspired by an Irish fiddle piece, the movement presents the whole theme in the violin, then joined by the piano. In a typically Romantic style, the theme broken into motifs that are developed and changed until an extended coda finishes it off.
It evokes images of warmth in cold, life in midwinter, and love conquering barrenness. Set in an AABA form, the piece begins mysteriously, in homage to Holst’s Saturn, recalling the starkness of winter. It transformed harmonically into more positive directions. The B section moves forward, brightening the mood, and return to the A theme, with a positive ending.
Many thanks to the artist, Robert Florzcak, for his permission to write these pieces based on his work, and more so for the use of the images for your understanding. For more examples of his wonderful works, see
Selected as semi-finalist in the 2019 American Prize, Composition (Instrumental Chamber Music)
for violin, piano and MIDI keyboard
Chrystalin is a fantasia on a theme from my Romances of Colorado for Chamber Orchestra. The original movements were vignettes from my life in the Rocky Mountains. This piece is a snapshot of a high altitude snowstorm: before, during and after. The intense cold and complete absence of wind enhances hearing and sight. Life is abundant, if hidden and sleeping. On occasion, brittle cold snaps icicles, river ice and branches, echoing throughout the montane regions.
“[In Chrystalin for Piano and Violin], Ballard conveys the frozen stillness and yet the warmth of life hidden in the coldness. The performance by Daniel Jones, violin, and the composer at the piano, was quite powerful and the large former sanctuary and its beautiful acoustics enhanced the impact of this exquisite piece.” Dr Walter Saul, CFAMC, October 19, 2019.