I recently completed a work for wind ensemble entitled Peña Amaya. This piece evokes memories of an afternoon hike along the mountain trails of Peña Amaya, which is located in the province of Burgos in northern Spain. After learning of the historical significance of this landmark, with all of its ancient and medieval ruins, and after hearing a work from the Codex Las Huelgas, a medieval manuscript of Gregorian chants with origins in the region, I was inspired to compose this piece.
The opening motif, an ascending tetrachord consisting of the pitches C-Db-Eb-F, is the basis for much of the melodic content throughout this work. Initially presented in the flutes and glockenspiel, the cell is then passed between soprano saxophone, oboe, and woodwind choir. The steady and deliberate hike up Peña Amaya is represented by the slower-moving ascending gesture that follows. Upon reaching a plateau, we take in the ruins of a castle and medieval fortress. Here, members of the ensemble, mostly the woodwinds and percussion, are presented in a highly polyphonic texture and in a more spontaneous manner — aleatoric notation is given to these instruments. After resuming our trek up the mountain and after the trails begin winding dangerously close to the cliffs, we arrive at the summit where we are greeted with a spectacular view of the entire region.
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