Instrumentation: piano soloist; flute (piccolo), oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, Bb trumpet, percussion, strings
Ballad Nocturne was commissioned by Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino for Italian virtuoso pianist Emanuele Arciuli. Mr. Arciuli is very rare in that he has a close connection to jazz without being an improviser. Though I left the jazz world 20 years ago to become a classical composer, it never left me. It is part of how I hear, influencing the lines, sonorities, and rhythms that I write. The idea came to me to write him a composition that had both the expressive feel of a jazz ballad and the flowing, lyrical style of a nocturne for orchestra.
Nocturnes typically have an ABA structure, containing a development section of the material, offset by a contrasting middle section, before a reprise of the opening material. Ballad Nocturne follows this form, building and developing from a simple melody and accompaniment typical to the nocturne style, with modal jazz harmony. Then for the ballad and the nocturne music to grow from that little seed and become a "third thing" was my goal. By exploring these two genres together I discovered a synergy that felt completely natural. It is my great honor to place this music in the hands of such an extraordinary pianist as Emanuele Arciuli.