A chess game for solo piano and orchestra

Checkmate! is a concertino for solo piano and orchestra. The piece contains six short melodic themes, each of them representing a specific chess piece: king, queen, bishop, rook, knight, pawn. These short themes are played at the beginning of the work, to introduce them to the audience.

The full work is based exclusively on the use of these six themes, alternating between the orchestra and the piano. The sequence of themes follows a “scripted” chess game. In fact, the actual chess game on which the composition is modeled is displayed, in real time, on a large screen above the orchestra. While two people play the scripted moves of the chess game on a computer, their computer screens are projected onto the large screen. In other words, these two people perform the exact sequence of chess moves that have been scripted, all in sync with the orchestra (every move is specified in the score, so they are simply following their parts, just like musicians). In this way, the chess game is integrated to the performance and this piece is the soundtrack for a chess game performed live.

Instrumentation: piano solo / 2222 / 2200 / 1 timp / 1 perc / strings

Duration: 12 minutes

Commissioned by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and their artistic director Alecia Lawyer.

Premiere: September 21st, 2018, by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, in Houston, TX, United States.

Performances of Checkmate!

2018, Sept. 22 | River Oaks Chamber Orchestra | St. John the Divine, Houston, TX, United States
2018, Sept. 21 | River Oaks Chamber Orchestra | Miller Outdoor Theatre, Houston, TX, United States (premiere)