Green Fire Variations, for cello and piano, is music about the energy within wild things. The title uses words borrowed from writer and conservationist Aldo Leopold:
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view. (Sand County Almanac)
Musically the composition is based on one short motive and scale reminiscent of a favorite composer, Béla Bartók. I used it in many different and varied guises: in dark, dramatic statements; interwoven playfulness; lyrical dance sections; solo introspection; and call and response between parts. The cello part is quite challenging in a number of areas, and while the piano part is mostly in a helpful role, the two create a balance. There’s an intentional sinuous mystery to the underlying ideas of the music, and I hope it conveys at least in part an aspect of the life force of the wild.