mitochondriaMitochondria are small parts of cells that manufacture ATP, the fuel cells use for energy. The thing that I found interesting about them, and the thing that I am attempting to capture in this piece, is that they are not only identical across the different cells in a person’s body (thus a blood cell contains mitochondria that are identical to a brain cell) but are also identical across the entire female lineage of a family (thus, you have the same mitochondria as your mother who has the same as her mother). This can be traced all the way back to a single female ancestor scientists have dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve.” The concept of something remaining identical across not only the different levels of complexity of a single organism, but indeed an entire race is fascinating to me and seemed something appropriately approached in music. This piece is broken up into two measure ‘cells’ each containing the main theme of the piece. The performer is told to repeat each of these cells as many times as they like. In the first section, that theme is repeated exactly in each cell while the left hand develops an ever growing and more and more complex harmonic pattern. In the second section, the melodic theme is developed further in the right hand and goes through several ever more complicated harmonic regions finally climaxing in a dense section played by the left forearm. The two sections begin and end with plucking inside the piano. Mitochondria is a commission from Mark Castellano. Mark asked me to write a piece that was minimalist in nature, but could also be considered an etude for the left hand. The idea of a piece with a repeating and unchanging theme in the right hand occurred to me shortly thereafter and eventually developed into the piece you hear.