Book of Five

for Icebreaker and Orchestra


World Premiere American Composers Orchestra Carnegie Hall  New York City  March 2002
Conducted by Steven Sloane
Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, the Bochum Symphony and the

ASCAP Foundation

German Premiere Bochum Symphony

December 2003

Steven Sloane conducting

Five Movements
36 Minutes

This is the first in a new series of works featuring amplified and acoustic combinations that includes the amplified opera Supermax and Skvera for Electric Guitar and Orchestra.

Book of Five is dedicated to the composer's friend and colleague Steven Sloane. It was written for him and because of him. Book of E, the second movement, is dedicated to Philip Glass on his 65th Birthday, and Book of P, the fourth movement, is dedicated to ASCAP's Frances Richard.

Initially, Book of Five was inspired by Harold Bloom's The Book of J which posits that the earliest author of the bible was a woman in King David's court. Events both international and personal intervened, altering the content and intent of the work, though the five movement structure remains. The five movements are:

1. Book of J
2. Book of E
3. Book of D - September 11, 2001
4. Book of P - September 18, 2001
5. Book of R

The composer writes:
"I began composing shortly before the Trade Center attack. After September 11, I felt I had to respond in some way through my work and in order to continue my work. This was not to be a grand statement, but a deeply personal one. The central movement is subtitled September 11, 2001 and features strings and chimes with the brass players fanned out across the balcony. The soloists, Icebreaker, are noticeably absent.

At the time my wife was 8 months pregnant. On September 18, 2001, exactly one week after the attack, our son Lucas was born - five weeks early. September 18 was also the postmark on the anthrax letter sent to NBC News where my wife works. Had Lucas not been born then, she (and he) surely would have gone through rounds of severe antibiotics not to mention the possibility that they might have been exposed to anthrax. His birth emphatically answered the tragedy of the week before with life. The fourth movement, played by Icebreaker only, is his and includes fragments of songs that I made up to sing to him.

I first heard Icebreaker at their New York debut in Town Hall over ten years ago. No one who was there could forget their performance. Since that time I wanted to create a large scale work for them and orchestra. James Poke, the artistic director of the group, and I began talking about doing just this in 1998. Book of Five is the result. It's been a great joy writing for them and hearing how they've dug their teeth into the music."

Icebreaker is a 12-piece British group, formed to play a loud, amplified, rhythmic form of new music with diverse influences. The primary building block of the repertoire is strongly articulated, often complex rhythm. The lineup includes 2 Flutes, 2 Saxophones, 2 Keyboards, Electric Violin, Electric Cello, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Accordian and Percussion.


Icebreaker Website