Excerpt performed by by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Full performance by Plano West Wind Ensemble under the direction of James Hannah guest conducted by Austin Ali.
Blissful Nightmares began in November 2014, when I remembered a local Austin, TX newspaper advertisement that my aunt gave me earlier that year: “Austin Symphony Orchestra seeks young composers.” With only two weeks until the deadline, I approached my music theory teacher, Akira Sato, for some guidance. He told me he gained his compositional inspiration by taking a walk to clear his mind and recording himself humming a tune. Later, he would take this tune, jot it down, and begin to build a piece from it. I never ended up taking a walk, but later that week I was having trouble going to sleep and had a tune stuck in my head. So, I took out my phone and recorded myself singing it. Unsatisfied and still unable to sleep, I headed to my computer and scored the beginning to Blissful Nightmares, a work born literally in my bed — a dream. Throughout the next week, I tinkered on my new work at school during passing periods and lunch breaks, taking every spare bit of time left to finish the piece. I submitted it to the Austin Symphony within minutes of the 11:59 PM deadline. A month later, to my complete surprise, I was notified that I was the grand prize winner of the ASO’s Texas Young Composer’s contest. Since then, Blissful Nightmares has been performed by the Austin Symphony in January 2015 and April 2015 and the Shepton High School Symphony Orchestra in December 2016. I even had the honor to conduct the wind ensemble transcription of the work at the Plano West Senior High School Spring Concert in 2016.
Blissful Nightmares is a symphonic work focused on bipolarity, thus the title is naturally an oxymoron. The piece begins with a rhythmic, percussive section, leading to a fierce brass melody. The strings (saxophones) transition the score to a woodwind feature in the “Flowing” Adagio interlude. The melody then recapitulates in the end with the return of the massive brass sound and ⅞ time signature.
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