Sitting in the House of a Giant by Justi...

June 1, 2016  |   Posted In



By Justin Casinghino

Sitting in the House of a Giant is subtitled “in memoriam G.S.”, which is a personal reference to the legendary composer, conductor, performer and music scholar Gunther Schuller, whom I have the honor to call one of my former teachers. The world lost Gunther in June of 2015, but his lasting legacy is simply immeasurable. The phrase that is the title of this piece popped into my head when I first visited Gunther for a lesson at his home, which was truly a living treasure trove of his incredible life in music. This phrase stuck with me for years, begging to be a title, but no piece seemed quite right. As I began undertaking this work, orchestrating its opening chords, it occurred to me that I was finally writing Sitting in the House of a Giant. Consequently, over the twenty-seven days that I wrote this piece, I thought of and even dreamt of Gunther constantly. Although I don’t draw directly on his personal composition techniques in the work, the influence he had on me – harmonically, rhythmically, texturally, orchestrationally, structurally – is what this piece is all about, while the horn solos and reference to popular music genres combined into concert hall literature are also direct nods to Gunther. During the course of the piece, I deal with the concept of “all interval” sonorities (chords that are comprised of every interval type) in a variety of ways, including the piece’s opening gesture. Along with this, I often present different ways of completing the full aggregate (all twelve pitches of the western system) while still leaning toward the use of tonal chord types (another reference to Gunther). The piece was written for a Carnegie Hall premiere, where Gunther’s music hangs in the halls.

Sitting in the House of a Giant offers each section of the wind ensemble exciting moments as part of the interwoven texture. It provides the opportunity to explore new sounds while still being connected to a strong sense of melody throughout its formal structure, coupled with a feel of contemporary percussion material that draws on popular music styles. The piece features pivotal horn solos and a prominent part for the percussion section, as well as solo and soli moments throughout the winds. Sitting in the House of a Giant is a thrilling musical adventure for the ensemble and audience alike.

Duration: 5.5 minutes
Grade Level: 4.5

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Additional information

Weight 0.1 lbs
Dimensions 0.004 × 11 × 17 in

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