Lansing McLoskey

for solo cello and double chamber orchestra
Duration: 18'
Commissioned by cellist Holly Reeves of the Anacapa Quartet.
view score

Solo cello
3 flutes
Choir I: oboe, horn, trumpet, trombone, 1 perc, violin*, 2 contrabass
Choir II. clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 1 perc, violin*, 2 contrabass
* The violin parts may be performed by a single player, or preferably by a very small section (3-5 players per Choir).


From the very first note of Occam’s razor, several expectations about what a concerto should be are questioned, though not necessarily totally rejected throughout the piece.  The unique sound of the orchestra (no violas or cellos, four contrabasses) is further emphasized by the physical arrangement: three flutes placed center stage, and the remainder of the orchestra divided into two equal ensembles seated on either side of the stage, framing the soloist.
Occam's razor  was commissioned by cellist Holly Reeves of the Anacapa Quartet, and was a Winner of the ASCAP Grants to Young Composers Award.

Occam, William of, also spelled “Ockham,” by-name Doctor Invincibilis (ca.1285-1349), Franciscan philosopher, theologian, political writer, and founder of a form of Nominalism – the school of thought that denies that universal concepts have any reality apart from the individual things signified by the universal or general term.
After his early training in a Franciscan convent, Occam’s theories and opinions regarding both theological and philosophical issues became progressively more radical, resulting in his expulsion from Oxford University and his eventual excommunication from the Church.  He spent the remainder of his life alternating between flight from papal persecution and periods of protection under various rulers.  Nevertheless, he continued his studies and writing, and his philosophies became influential in the medieval philosophical community.
The driving principle behind Occam’s logic, and indeed all this theological and philosophical theories, was that of non sunt multiplicanda entia præter necessitatem; i.e., entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.  Although this principle was invoked by other medieval philosophers and scientists, Occam mentioned it so frequently and employed it so sharply that it came to be called “Occam’s razor.”
He used it, for instance, to dispense with motion, which is merely the reappearance of a thing in a different place; with efficient casuality, which he viewed merely as regular succession; and with relations, which he held to be simply the inherent (yet not necessary) results of the interactions between any given separate objects.  Similarly, time itself is not an entity separate from things in time, for without the existing things themselves, time, in our sense, would not exist..



"Smart, compelling and fascinating music that gives strong hints of a punk-band past.…a chaotic collision of exuberant populist style with a bluesy edge and infectious punch. … Sixth Species offers a bracing sampler from an engaging, greatly gifted composer I hope to hear more from."
Gramophone Magazine, Annual Awards Issue

"Lansing McLoskey composes music that is keenly heard and deeply felt.  His music reveals a remarkable sensitivity…resulting in works of emotional intensity. Avoiding any allegiance to “isms” he has developed a unique musical voice which is clear and distinctive."
– The American Academy of Arts and Letters, on the occasion of his receiving the 2011 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship.

"Lansing McLoskey’s is a distinctive voice in present day American music. This CD offers a fascinating cross-section of his vocal and instrumental chamber music and bears witness to McLoskey’s sharp ear for instrumental sonorities."
– Carlos María Solare, The Journal of the American Viola Society

“McLoskey’s musical interests have evolved from being a guitarist and songwriter for punk rock bands to a composer of some of the most unique and engaging contemporary music written today.
– Benjamin Faris, The Saxophone Symposium

“…one of the most exceptional and inspiring concerts I have ever attended…. [McLoskey's work] inspired me to be more critical when thinking about musical sonority, form and thematic development in the future.”
– Elizabeth Perten, Boston Musical Intelligencer

"But in fact the heart of the concert, for this listener, was an unassuming piece [Rosetta stone] by Lansing D. McLoskey - the "D" standing perhaps for dense, demanding, daring. ... The opening was an explosively metric movement of terrifying complexity and jagged irregularity. Balancing it was a second movement of rounded, mantralike piano clusters interspersed with lyrical lines in the treble instruments. McLoskey... created a magical sonority throughout this mysterious but thought-provoking piece."
–Paul Horsley, The Kansas City Star
"...THIS IS REAL MUSIC, with rhythm, melody, harmony, and form, which the listener can perceive, but definitely is from the twentieth century."
 –Thomas Hall, Journal of the American Viola Society

"A major talent ... and a deep thinker with a great ear. His Requiem is distinctive, fascinating, and compelling."
 –American Composers Orchestra press release

"The other standout on the program, McLoskey's Requiem...[is] a beautiful piece, one that conveys both ethereal solemnity and wrathful reckoning."
–Michael Manning, The Boston Globe

"[McLoskey's music]...resonates with the listener and doesn't attempt to alienate the audience. ... powerful and emotive music."
Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sential