Shapeshifters was commissioned in 2007 by Justin Brown and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra for the piano duo, Quattro Mani, and is gratefully dedicated to all these wonderful musicians. It was premiered on April 10, 2008, and revised in 2010.
The title, Shapeshifters, denotes a kind of homage to music?s ability to change and morph itself in uncanny and unusual ways. The idea was inspired whiled composing a moment about 2/3 of the way through the first movement, ?At Any Moment?, when an interruption of a sudden B minor chord in the horns and strings changes everything. What had been a good day is now overcast and gloomy, like what happens when you get a phone call out of the blue telling you something you may not have wanted to hear.
In the other movements, shapeshifting occurs in different ways. In the second movement, ?Florid Counterpoint?, twisting contrapuntal lines evolve into a kind of Andalusian lament.
In the third movement, ?Confused and Dazed?, the music exhibits a kind of collage mentality, switching back and forth between different kinds of materials rather than evolving a thematic idea.
In ?Topology?, the final movement, the music evolves from a kind of frenetic and percussive texture to full-blown dance music. Shapeshifters is not a concerto in the romantic tradition. Here the pianos move back and forth between being articulate soloists and being members of the orchestra.