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Burning (2019)

for orchestra

ca. 10' (*)



2-2-2-2 / 4-3-3-1 / timp. + 2 perc. + piano / strings

(*) an abridged version of this piece, Skies of Smoke, about 5' in length, is also available.



The idea for this piece came to me in late 2017 during the wildfires that devastated the California North Bay town of Santa Rosa. I was driving along I-80 to San Francisco, and the sky was covered in an eerie, thick blanket of smoke, blocking out the sunlight. As a native of California, I’ve grown up with wildfires, but those in the past few years have been different. Far worse. 


When one looks at an ocean, they contemplate its surface-level beauty and the deeper cultural and ecological meanings it contains. In a similar way, I stared at the smoke-filled sky and breathed it in, contemplating its presence and also what it represented; death, loss, destruction, and ecological collapse. As the activist Greta Thunberg has said, “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”


Commissioned by Pete Nowlen and the Symphony d’Oro, Burning is dedicated to wildfire victims, firefighters, climate scientists, and activists. To honor the victims and help fight climate change, 50% of royalties generated from performances of this piece are donated to One Tree Planted, a non-profit which plants trees around the world.

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