I chose the instruments for Firebrand for their color combination and for their agility. While you might think from its title that this work is a nonstop, wildly virtuosic affair, it is in fact quite the opposite: the image from which I built the piece is of the center of the flame outward to its turbulent and flickering edges. I think the art is in suggesting the fiery edge by working from the calm center. That's what fine musicians have mastered - the ability to work from a place of centered calm in order to display astonishing virtuosity. And that's was Angel Fire is: a place of centered calm out of which astonishing music flows each summer.

While I was composing Firebrand, June Carter Cash, composer of the song "Ring of Fire" died. As an homage to her, the refrain from "Ring of Fire" is woven into the fabric of the piece. In the final measure, I bid her farewell ("Goodbye, June").

-Libby Larsen

June 2003