Invocation of Orpheus (1989)

Concerto for Trumpet, Harp and String Orchestra or String Quartet

Duration:  12 ½ minutes
Trumpet; hp/str
Version for trumpet and piano available

Commissioned by The International Trumpet Guild

Premiere Performance:  August 10, 1989; Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra;
Stephen Burns, Trumpet; RXR, Conductor


Program Note:

Invocation (I):  An off-stage cadenza for the solo trumpet, who represents the legendary singer, Orpheus; the on-stage harp, representing Orpheus’ lyre, answers the trumpet’s call, after which the trumpet joins the harp on stage.

Aria (II) Rodríguez’ harmonization of L’Invocation di Orfeo, a fragment from a lost opera by the earliest Italian opera composer, Jacobo Peri (1560-1625).  The aria, beginning with the words, “Gioite al canto mio,” expresses Orpheus’ exultation at the power of his music, which was said to charm wild animals and, eventually in the story, even death itself.

Chaconne (III):  Drawn from Rodríguez’ incidental music for an Orpheus-based theater piece.   

Cadenza (IV):  Again, as in the opening, the harp echoes the trumpet’s phrases.

Epilogue (V):  The strings return and all forces play the serene closing phrases.

The musical language of Invocation of Orpheus is quasi-tonal, with the quotation from Peri and the prominent use of vertical sonorities built in thirds and sixths which cross frequently over the “borderline” into triads.  These sonorities are fused into the composer’s characteristic “richly lyrical atonality” (Musical America) in a style “romantically dramatic” (The Washington Post) and filled with the composer’s “all-encompassing sense of humor(The Los Angeles Times).