This piano concerto comes in two parts: Still, written in 2013, and Rapids, in 1996.
Rapids was commissioned by the University of Wisconsin to help celebrate their 100th Anniversary. That section, which lasts about thirteen minutes, is designed to be almost entirely fast. Except for one short passage for two flutes and a violin, the notes are moving rapidly either in soft or loud passages particularly in the piano part which is an instrument that has that kind of ability for speed. There is also a sense of water "rapids" in how the notes "cascade" over and around each other. This section is dedicated to pianist Ursula Oppens who premiered it.
Last year, I added Still as an introduction to Rapids because I felt that the addition of a section at slow speed would contextually enhance the excitement of the fast paced Rapids. This slow section, which lasts about six minutes, is the complete opposite of the second section on every level a very "held" and mostly quiet space for meditation with a possible image of sitting in a boat on a beautiful day with a clear sky on a lake that is completely still.
This movement is dedicated to my friend and colleague Blair McMillen, who will record the whole concerto Still/Rapids with the Albany Symphony led by David Alan Miller after giving its premiere performances in March 2014.