Orlando Philharmonic and Full Sail University present Keith Lay’s Four Dimensions, April 21

Published by Charlie Griffin on

The Orlando Philharmonic, in partnership with Full Sail University will hold a concert gala fundraiser program entitled Symphony in HD at Full Sail Live, a state of the art venue in Winter Park, Florida. This performance represents an innovative intersection between classical music and technology.

SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2012 AT 6:00 PM
Full Sail Live at Full Sail University • 141 University Park Drive, Winter Park
Dirk Meyer Conducts • Brian Smithers, Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) • Janette Zilioli, soprano • Michelle Mailhot, vocalist

Short works, extracted movements and other gems will fill the evening, including works  by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mozart, Duke Ellington, and Orlando’s own Stella Sung and Keith Lay.

Keith composed a new work, Four Dimensions, exclusively for this event (see below).

Program Notes by Keith Lay
Four Dimensions is an imaginary exploration of existence through music and image,  co-created by Visual Artist, Nathan Selikoff and me. The work begins with the Zero Dimension and evolves into the First, Second, Third (our universe of height, width and depth) and finally grows into the Fourth spatial dimension that we can only try to imagine. It is a single movement work lasting under seven minutes.

“Four Dimensions” music is composed for orchestra, an electronic wind instrument called an EWI and electronic sounds. The EWI is treated in this work as a regular woodwind in the orchestra and has several important solos. The electronic music was composed to be a new section of the orchestra –  playing a similar role as the winds, brass, strings and percussion do – by presenting new material, serving as an accompaniment, and adding timbral color. It employs both musical pitches and unpitched sounds that mix with the orchestra from many different directions: sometimes from behind you – or from the sides of the hall.  Maestro Dirk Meyer will be performing the electronics part from the podium with a Nintendo Wii-mote in his left hand while he conducts. This performance technology was created by my Full Sail colleague, Marc Pinsky for tonight’s concert.

The EWI, performed here by another Full Sail colleague and saxophonist, Brian Smithers, plays exactly like a woodwind instrument. But instead of a reed resonating an air column like a clarinet, the EWI electronically senses fingering, breath and mouthpiece pressure which control the tone, loudness and color of what comes out of its loudspeaker.

The work opens with the “Zero Dimension”. To be or not to be. In fact, the zero dimension really isn’t technically a dimension at all because it is dimensionless. In mathematics, we treat this as as a point that has no size, in physics it is a singularity, in logic it is true or false, on or off. An opening fortissimo chord from the brass represents this declaration of existence. The chord is restated in the electronics, then the woodwinds and then the strings over which the EWI appears with the main theme:

The opening elements: the eight note theme, the opening chords, the polytonal harmonic palette, the idea of moving back and forth between instrument sections of the orchestra and electronic sounds provide much of the developmental content throughout the entire work.

Singularities connect to form lines for the “First Dimension”, represented by a loud, bit-crunchy, electronic sounds emphasizing the tritone in the harmonic palette. Only direction exists in this imaginary universe.

In the Second Dimension, the lines from the First Dimension pair up and briefly connect to form planes. This is a primarily orchestral section featuring rapid EWI passages.  Intensity builds with an insistent triplet figure, reaching a climax which breaks into the “Third Dimension”.

The “Third Dimension” provides rhythmic relief with a soaring EWI solo over sustained, beautiful orchestral harmonies. We finally arrive at a quiet, stable point with the piano – repeating a closely voiced extended chord in D minor.

A loud interruption destroys this solace as a hole is torn in our dimensional fabric and we fall into the final “Fourth Dimension”. The 3rd dimension is visible within the 4th just as we in the 3rd dimension can see the 2nd. Here, the opening musical material from each dimension recapitulates and climbs to the final statement. At the close, the EWI and strings take the main theme, the woodwinds repeat the triplet figure from the Second Dimension, and large brass chords build to the final climax, ending with a loud, shaped noise.


Leave a Reply