About the piece...

6 of 1: A Tone Poem (1998)
for Chamber Orchestra (Fl, Cl, Bn, Hn, Tpt, Tbn, Pno, 2 Perc, Strings)
Premiered by the New Music Ensemble at UT-Austin (October 28, 2003)

6 of 1 is a single-movement work inspired by Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner," a seventeen episode BBC television show that aired during 1967. The work's six sections are based upon various ideologies and motifs from the series and relate a narrative based upon issues of individuality within a larger society. "The Prisoner" tells the story of a former secret agent who has resigned for reasons he refuses to reveal. The man is abducted from his home in London and taken to The Village, a place where the residents, known only by numbers, are held captive because of the information they possess. The episodes tell the story of Number 6’s attempts to escape while resisting the efforts of those seeking to break him. There is some question as to whether he ever truly escapes and whether or not he succeeds in preserving his sense of self is an issue that must be decided by each viewer.

The title of the work is taken from the phrase "Six of one, half dozen of another", which appears a number of times throughout the series. The Horn, which represents Number 6, plays an integral role in the piece. As a play upon the title, the single movement work can be broken down into six overarching sections. The opening section is meant to depict Number 6's resignation, while the second and third sections are representative of the Prisoner's arrival and introduction into The Village. Prominent features include various 'bird calls' and chimes heard in The Village, as well as a brass band. Resisting assimilation, the horn is silenced at the close of the third section. The forth section is broken into two sub-sections. The first, with a static and consonant sound, is based upon a sign in The Village which reads: Music Makes A Quiet Mind. It then moves into a sub-section in which the protagonist is subjected to further 'brainwashing' techniques and is almost broken, but breaks away. As the horn is silenced again, the trumpet then follows suit by straying from the group. Soon, all the instruments are individuals, leading to a fifth section that is extremely random and chaotic, as each person does as he or she pleases. The final section is a warped reflection of the first, in which the horn seems to have escaped and triumphed. This is not the case though, and the work draws to a close with an ominous return of earlier material from The Village, now incorporating material associated with the horn as well.

Special thanks to The Prisoner Appreciation Society for their assistance and support.