Christopher LaRosa, Current DM Student
The Tide Jewels (2016)
In Japanese mythology, the tide jewels control the motions of the sea. Often depicted as two pearls, the kanju (干珠) controls the ebb-tide and the manju (満珠) the flow-tide. The jewels appear in various legends recorded as early as the Nara period (710-794 C.E.) “The Princess Jewel Taker”—the fable of Tamatori-hime—served as a popular subject for Ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In this story, Fujiwara no Fuhito of the powerful Fujiwara clan embarks on a journey to recover the tide jewels, which were stolen by the dragon god of the sea, Ryūjin. During his travels, he marries a modest shell diver, Tamatori, who bears him a son. Out of love for Fuhito, Tamatori dives down to Ryūjin’s undersea palace, where she lulls to sleep with her music the dragon and his cephalopod guards. When Tamatori recovers the tide jewels, the creatures awaken and pursue her. She cuts open her breast to hide the tide jewels, and the blood-clouded water aids her escape. The princess dies from her wound after safely delivering the tide jewels back to her family.
The Tide Jewels conveys an ebb and flow of musical energy. Washes of contrapuntal motion give way to suspended musical planes. Hollow textures accrue density, eventually yielding to their growing musical gravity. Yet a musical representation of ebb and flow cannot be one-dimensional. The tides participate in a complex interaction of simultaneous currents, moving at different speeds and with different forces. Likewise, the contrapuntal lines of my piece often move at different temporal rates. Flutes, clarinets, and bassoons whip with fleeting wind-like surface wavelets, while oboes, horns, and violins participate in a series of upwellings and downwellings. The vibraphone, harp, celesta, and muted trumpets capture an ever-changing reflection of light, while the violas, cellos, and double basses groan in an undertow.
Christopher LaRosa’s music exhibits a fascination for temporal perception, human aggression and compassion, natural phenomena, and technological advancements. His music has been described as “deftly crafted” (Boston Classical Review) and “charismatic, well scored, and positively received” (Hartford Courant). His experience in the electronic music studio permeates his acoustic compositions, where texture, timbre, and spatialization gain equal footing with melody, harmony, and counterpoint. LaRosa has received commissions from the American Guild of Organists, Atlantic Coast Conference Band Directors Association, and Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia by ensembles such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, United States Marine Band, Boston New Music Initiative, CEPROMUSIC, Genesis Chamber Singers, and NOTUS. His electronic music has received performances at Electronic Music Midwest, Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and the Seoul International Computer Music Festival. LaRosa is currently pursuing a Doctor of Music degree at the IU Jacobs School of Music, where he serves as an associate instructor for the theory department. He has studied electronic music creation and critique at IRCAM in Paris. LaRosa earned a master’s degree from Boston University and completed his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College. He has studied with Claude Baker, David Dzubay, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, P. Q. Phan, John Wallace, and Dana Wilson.