COUPLET FOR A DESERT SUMMER is one of a few works I wrote at this time that were scored from rather direct transcriptions of free improvisations at the piano. (The other works are CONCERTO FOR DOUBLE BASS (1977), BRASS QUINTET (1979), IMPROVISATORY CONCERT (1980), and TWO IMPROMPTUS (1980).
Since the Phoenix Symphony does not work in the summer,
I have done much of my writing in the summer. Summers are HOT in
Phoenix, but the summers are when everything is happening in the desert -
usually at dawn, dusk, and particularly at night. The desert is not
just scorpions, snakes, and man-eating spiders. In fact, I recently
learned that the Sonoran Desert was the second most diverse ecosystem on
the planet, second only to the rain forest. And it is the summer
when everything is active, especially in the late summer when the monsoon
rains come. And I know because I have had a lot of time to watch!
I like to think of this piece as a collection of vignettes,
held together by some common threads. The second movement ends with
a spectacular sunset that fades to black. In fact, I considered
calling the two movements Sunrise and Sunset.