This week American composer Roger Zare is the focus of the Consonant Classical Challenge. Zare began playing the piano at 5, and composing at 14. As he's matured, so has his compositional skill. Zare is fascinated with science and nature, and often uses them as sources of inspiration. That doesn't mean his music is dry or academic. Rather, it provides an underlying logic to his works. Zare seems to prefer consonant intervals that move and resolve in unusual ways because of that logic.
The chamber work "Geometries" brings mathematics to the fore. The first movement, "Fractals" presents a theme that continually generates smaller versions of itself, increasing in complexity and harmonic richness as it progresses. The second, "Tangents" has a single line melody that goes off into, well, tangents.
"Aerodynamics" for orchestra is a tone poem describing a hang glider flight. Zare's effective orchestration turns the ensemble into the rising and falling wind currents, over and through which the simple melody is kept aloft.
"Lift-Off" captures the excitement of watching a space shuttle launch. Zare has both an orchestral and concert band version of this work, and both are equally exciting.
Roger Zare has found a new way of organizing music that not only opens up fresh new possibilities, but doesn't leave the audience behind. Most of the music I've heard is quite accessible, though never failing to surprise or delight. I'd love to hear a concert program open with "Lift-Off." Then we'd be getting somewhere!
Although I couldn't find any recordings available for sale, Roger Zale has his own YouTube channel where you can enjoy many of his compositions.