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for percussion orchestra (8')




player 1 | bells, chimes (shared)

player 2 | chimes, crotales (shared)

player 3 | vibraphone I, bells (shared)

player 4 | vibraphone II

player 5 | xylophone, chimes (shared)

player 6 | marimba I (4.3 octave)

player 7 | marimba II (4.3 octave)

player 8 | marimba III (4.5 octave), china cymbal

player 9 | marimba IV (5.0 octave)

player 10 | timpani, suspended cymbal

player 11 | large suspended cymbal, ride cymbal, low cymbal stack, concert toms (4), large triangle

player 12 | tam-tam, large triangle, medium suspended cymbal, medium-high cymbal stack, mark                                tree, upright bass drum, snare drum

player 13 | concert bass drum, sizzle cymbals, medium triangle, medium-large suspended cymbal,                                piccolo snare drum




"National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars."

- Carl Sagan, Cosmos          


In retrospect, I can easily note three main influences in Citadel of the Stars: my strong affinity for electronic music (recently, the likes of James Blake and Moderat), my deep admiration for the music of Alejandro Viñao (notably his use of multiple time and simultaneous voices), and my profound respect for Carl Sagan, which has grown significantly in recent years. This piece is a sort of homage to him and those who continuously explore the marvels of the universe.


Although this piece does not follow any specific formal structure, a few themes and motifs connect the five main sections, presented as quasi-variations rather than through programmatic means. Most notably, I have taken Sagan’s last name and exploited it for various uses including five sections for its five letters as well as its pitch-collection (S, fixed do-si/Bb; A, A natural; G, G natural; A, A natural; N, n for variable). Furthermore, an extensive use of echo is apparent throughout as my musical interpretation for the Einsteinian laws of gravitational relativity. Lastly, I’ve applied instances of “rhythmic curves” between various instruments and the sonic layers they create, inspired by the wormhole scene in Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. Put simply, a wormhole bends space-time and “distorts” our reality. I’ve lightly interpreted this into a rhythmic motive, occasionally blending with echo effects and dissipating melodic cells throughout the piece.


Citadel of the Stars was commissioned by Dr. Brian A. West & the TCU Percussion Orchestra.


World Premiere: April 25, 2016 | Fort Worth, Texas     


Available through C. Alan Publications.                

citadel of the stars

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