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.