Composer - Clarinetist

Black-Bodied Peppered Moth - for Alto Saxophone and Percussion (2018)

Commissioned by the University of Houston AURA Contemporary Ensemble; Rob Smith, Director

Premiered by the AURA Contemporary Ensemble - Ellie Parker and Bensen Kwan

Duration: ca. 9 minutes

It can often seem like we are constantly surrounded by dreadful news, such as catastrophic weather events, horrific mass murders, and human rights abuses.  Despite being initially disturbed, we can often become inured to grim news the more we are exposed to it.  At worst, we may even become unable to show any signs of empathy, regardless of how severe a situation can get.  The Black-Bodied Peppered Moth serves as the perfect metaphor for this process, demonstrating how, in order to adapt to a constant inundation of bad news, we become desensitized, potentially to the point of dehumanization.  During the industrial revolution in England, trees became dark with soot, and so the color of the species of moth evolved into a darker shade so it could continue to camouflage itself.

Special thanks to Ellie Parker and Bensen Kwan for all of their support and for letting me torture them for months with questions.  This piece would not have been possible without y'all!

Black-Bodied Peppered Moth - Ellie Parker and Bensen Kwan
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Artwork by Isabella Millman