Balagan is a Hebrew word, variously assigned Russian, Polish, Turkish and Persian origins, which has no precise English translation, but refers generally to “chaos” – whether of a room, interpersonal relationships, or the state of the world at large.

This work was commissioned by Mary Oliver and Rozemarie Heggen for their unique duo project of composed pieces with improvisation.  Since composing and improvisation stem from the same internal source, it seemed like a healthy challenge to go ‘in depth’ and investigate the different layers to my composing process and begin to pick apart the different types of improvisation that goes on in my composed works. 

Nezilat ha Balagan is a through composed work, with different ways in which improvisation is introduced into the composed materials.  In the first part, I notate arrival and departure ‘points’ in the score, and let the players ‘find their way’ from one ‘point’ to the next.  I refer to this In the second part begins completely notated, and I let the details of the score gradually disappear for greater improvisation from the players. 

To listen to an audio clip of Nezilat ha Balagan, please visit:


Nezilat ha Balagan

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