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A Wintry Vale


A Wintry Vale, for string orchestra; 10 minutes.
Commissioned and premiered by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra.  
Anthony Quartuccio, conductor.


"deftly handled in its tonal gorgeousness" -Scott MacClelland (Metroactive)
"draws you in magically with its rich romantic sonorities and inexorable voice-leading" -Paul Hertelendy (
"conjured fresh snow on a quiet morning" -Richard Scheinin (Mercury News)


A Wintry Vale recounts a snowflake's descent from cloud to earth.  The programmatic nature of the piece is guided entirely by the structure and imagery of its text.  The themes build patiently, from the fragile first steps of the snowflake to the heartfelt plea for solace, until the dormant, waiting arms of the vale awaken and respond.

Atop his perch of mist
A frozen witness hides his face behind the veil
Beyond the glare of dusk and earth
Beyond all sight of failing steps into the sky

Still the earth stirs in slumber
For the sky paints her blind
As her breath spills ever softly through the vale
And ever gently all awaken to the song of her sleep
Stealing away into the sky

As veil to vale they slowly fall

Through biting winds of groundless scorn
His virgin wings were crushed and torn
When cool remembrance cast him down
And secret burdens bore him low

Into the wake of failing flight
Into the depths of dusk and earth
Into the waking whispers of wintry reunions
Till weary and trembling he falls at her doorway
And rests in the shade of night

As if in dream the fallow vale
Guards shattered prayers from storm and gale
And in their stead yield wings of light
That with the dawn will teem with flight

Beneath the shrouds of friend and shadow he sleeps...

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