for orchestra

Written: 2011
Duration: 14'
Instrumentation: orchestra – 1211-2000, timpani, strings
Commissioned by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Jaime Laredo, conductor.
World Premiere: Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Made in Vermont Tour (Five Performances), Jaime Laredo, conductor, September-October, 2011.
Additional Performances: Austin Symphony, Atlantic Music Festival, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Chappaqua Orchesta, Delaware Symphony
PublisherBill Holab Music

View Score | Buy Sheet Music/Rental


Vermont is famous for its green mountains, but I often find myself taking long drives through the mountains on overcast days or even at night, when the mountains lose color and become gray silhouettes. Many roads in Vermont are so dark, particularly in the Northeast Kingdom, that you need to use headlights, even during the day. Dark Mountains is meant to portray the beauty and grandeur of the mountains and the peacefulness of the open roads, but also the darkness and occasional treacherous passes one may encounter during the evening hours. The piece is in three connected sections. The first section portrays the calmness and austerity of a quiet evening. The second is inspired by a fast drive down winding country roads, with twists and turns, frequent tempo changes and shifting gears. The final section evokes the feeling of looking at the nighttime sky with moonlight shining through the trees and the sounds of nature in the distance.

This piece is commissioned by and dedicated to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Jaime Laredo, and was originally written for the Made in Vermont Music Festival.

...it was easy to see the appeal of Paterson’s work “Dark Mountains.” It’s a piece that builds tension, takes mysterious turns into the kind of suspenseful motifs that would be very much at home inside a British mystery series... The work was inspired by drives through the landscapes of Vermont, and the result has plenty of lyrical passages... Slices of dissonance added interest to this eclectic and successful work.
— Luke Quinton, Austin American-Statesman
The work is richly crafted, tonal but with knotty contemporary harmonic language and rhythms, proved largely pastoral, including reflections on the craggy Vermont mountainside. The VSO exudes a sense of joy - smiles included - when it performs under Laredo, and this time was no exception.
— Jim Lowe, Times Argus