Duration: 10 minutes
Commissioned by conductor John P. Lynch & the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble
Premiere: March 2008, Athens, GA
About Lost Gulch Lookout: - program note by Jake Wallace
Lost Gulch Lookout is reflective of the craggy, colorful landscape of Kristin Kuster’s upbringing in Boulder, Colorado. Far from merely nostalgic, however, her forcefully lean and athletic writing style evokes the jagged nature of the raw terrain. Sounds consist simultaneously of hauntingly beautiful sonorities and tense dissonances. Kuster achieves this dichotomy by pairing open-sounding perfect intervals (such as fourths and fifths) with a decorating semitone that clashes with both members of the initial intervals. The piece has a modified binary structure, with the unfurling events of the opening repeated again at the work’s midpoint, with even greater fervor. A cadre of percussion batter away unrelentingly, driving the work through its permutations until finally the piece implodes, shattering itself on the very rocks it had so immaculately colored.
Kuster’s Lost Gulch Lookout is an outcropping of rock on the razor edge of civilization–set atop precipices near Boulder and the Denver metro area. The visceral gritty nature of the very canyons themselves are, perhaps, nature’s response to the incessant imposition of humanity into the few remaining unspoiled areas of nature.