Charles Peck's piano quartet Sunburst is the winner of the 2018 Left Coast Composition Contest. Left Coast will perform the piece in the 2018-19 season. Charles currently teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a doctoral candidate at Cornell University. Find out more about Charles at his website.
Peck describes his work as a two-movement work that explores the energy in sunlight. The first movement, titled Reflect, focuses on the frenetic, scattered motion of light waves. The music contains only a few short gestures, but it jumps to and between them at speed, as if it were following a ray of light over contrasting surfaces. Each gesture is imbued with that same, active motion, exemplified by the use of extreme ranges in the piano and tightly interlocked rhythms in the ensemble. Contrarily, the patient second movement, titled Absorb, acts as a solar-powered circuit. The music begins in the low register and breathes slowly while the circuit receives and stores energy. As the power accumulates, the electricity begins to hum, an effect that is personified by drones in the violin and viola. Finally, after flickering on and off, the movement climaxes with a powerful release of energy, followed by a steady, sequential descent in register as the circuit runs out of power.