Phillip Schroeder: Move in the Changing Light

Throughout Move In the Changing Light's seven pieces, composer, performer, and Music Professor Phillip Schroeder generates dense masses of sparkling trills and cascades by not only using multiple pianos on a given piece (five on “Move in the Changing Light 2”) but by then applying digital delays to them. The sound that results verges on paradisiacal, especially when the heavenly keyboard textures are joined by the angelic (multi-tracked) vocalizing of Amy McGinty. Despite the detailed patterning of the pianos, Schroeder's music exudes an entrancing calm and openness, as modulating tones bleed slowly into one another.

Aside from the metronomic ticking of a vibraphone, “Rising, See the Invisible” is not so much dissimilar compositionally to “Move in the Changing Light 2” as it is sonically with Robert Best's baritone and Daniel Cline's cello imbuing the meditative piece with a darker, ruminative ambiance. Scored for multiple pianos and digital delays only, “Where Joy May Dwell” presents Schroeder's style most nakedly and, at sixteen minutes, allows the composer ample opportunity to let his music unfurl unhurriedly. An interesting tension shadows the piece, as the piano's hard definition pushes up against the impressionistic interweave of the composition itself, plus an analogous tension emerges between its single note accents and trilling clusters. Even more interestingly, conventional adherence to a four- or eight-bar phrasing is banished as a given tonal mass extends and then briefly expires before another continues the pattern at a different pitch or key. Though Move in the Changing Light would likely be categorized as 'contemporary classical,' it possesses none of the atonal and intellectually austere character that a description of that kind might connote for some listeners; instead, Move in the Changing Light is remarkably soothing (especially “This We Have,” whose restrained instrumental arrangement allows McGinty's voice a chance to shine)—which shouldn't be construed to mean vapid, by the way, as Schroeder's glistening pieces are full of elegant nuance.

August 2006