Opus Pocus was composed in 2011 for the Arundo Donax Reed Quintet. The instrumentation is unusual: oboe, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and bassoon. Each of the 5 movements is based on a famous magician (or sorcerer). The first movement, "The Witch of Endor," was composed before the work was titled so is the one movement that does not consciously portray the person memorialized. The second movement, "Simon Magus" (Simon the Sorcerer) is taken from Scripture, where Simon attempts to purchase power to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit upon believers, and is thereupon condemned by the Apostle Peter. In between the tonal outer sections is a dissonant section to suggest the true condition of the sorcerer's heart. "Merlin" is the slow movement of the suite, and looks back to the fictional magician often associated with the court of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The movement is mysterious and subdued throughout, to suggest legend and facts obscured by the mists of time. Harry Houdini was doubtless the greatest escape artist of all time. His mastery of this art is suggested by the mercurial lines in the various woodwinds in the fourth movement that bears his name. The final movement, written in tribute to the most famous living magician, David Copperfield, attempts to suggest Copperfield's ability to seemingly make things disappear. The form of this movement is ABRACADABRA, where the "R" stands for "repeat." Thus, each time the "A" and "B" themes come back, there are measures (in increasing numbers) that have disappeared, such that by their last iteration, there is almost nothing left.
Very colorful writing with some very challenging technique for all players. Total duration approximately 17 minutes.