Oboe, Viola, and Piano

premiered by


Mark Hill, oboe; Daniel Foster, viola; Xak Bjerken, piano


1999 International Double Reed Society conference

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tripolarities was written for Polaris, and was premiered by them at the 1999 International Double Reed Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The unusual instrumentation of Polaris seemed to call for music which would let each voice speak independently and yet allow for some common meeting ground. The three instruments often take contrasting roles, beginning with angular but legato lines in the oboe against aggressively insistent chords in the viola, with the piano providing a steady bell-like accompaniment. Their individuality is further underlined by frequently conflicting meters or apparent tempi. One voice generally arrives at a new tempo before the others, seemingly dragging its partners into the new section. Roles are traded; sometimes two join forces against the third; sometimes all three seem united in intent.

Despite many contrasts, the three instruments do collaborate to create various distinct sections of song, dance, and texture. In fact, most of the musical material is ultimately shared, transformed to benefit from each instrument’s strengths.

audio excerpt
(Mark Hill, oboe; Katherine Murdock, viola; Xak Bjerken, piano)


score excerpt

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