The LHC (Large Hadron Collider), is a particle accelerator built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva Switzerland. It is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator ever built, allowing scientists to probe more deeply the inner-workings of matter and energy. I have always been interested in science and I was excited when I first heard about the LHC's development.
The first movement, Continuum, envisions the ether of time-space, a vast expanse with harmonies fading into and out of focus. A melodic line is passed around the ensemble and the movement ends, fading into a single held note, which proceeds into the second movement without pause. Quarks, the title of the second movement, refers to the smallest building blocks of all matter. There are six different flavors of quarks, organized into three pairs. This symmetry is reflected in the music as pairs of saxophones poke in and out of the fabric, always in contrary motion.
The third movement, 4 TeV (tera electron volts), represents the power of each beam of the LHC during 2012, when this work was written. Key clicks, passed around the ensemble, represent the massive machine revving up its energy. Another idea, stated in imitation, leads to an acceleration into the fourth movement.
The final movement is named after the Higgs Boson, otherwise known as the "God particle." The LHC was built in order to confirm or disprove the existence of this particle that gives all other particles mass. On July 4, 2012, in the middle of my work on this piece, CERN announced that they had found the Higgs Boson after years of accumulating data. The music consists of repeated triumphant chords, morphing from one to another, celebrating this momentous discovery. All three previous movements are referenced, and the work ends with a reprise of the ethereal opening movement, this time fading away into silence.
There are four versions of LHC, one for saxophone quartet (SATB), one for clarinet quartet (3 B-flat clarinets and bass clarinet), one for bassoon quartet (4 bassoons, with NO contrabassoon), and one for piano trio. The saxophone version was commissioned by the MMTA Commissioned Composer program and premiered in Ann Arbor, Michigan by the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet: Dan Graser, Joe Girard, Danny Hawthorne-Foss, and Zach Stern. The clarinet version was commissioned and premiered by the 10th and Broadway Clarinet Quartet.
Download a sample of the score here.