Gregory Miles Hoffman


selected compositions

In Cauda Venenum (The Poison is in the Tail)

    for oboe and electronic sounds [2008]

A work in which the oboe and electronics engage in an increasingly complex call and response, first mirroring each other in a kind of slow, circling dance, then scurrying frantically after one another, and finally ending in a tightly wound canon. The lengthy coda offers a dark, dramatic catharsis. The Latin phrase which lends the piece its title makes reference, of course, to the scorpion’s tail, and is often used to describe an argument or critique that grows pointed at the end. In musical terms, this translates quite specifically to the aforementioned coda. More generally, the phrase bestows a predatory quality on the piece that is reflected in the music. But there is a seductive, hypnotic element to this predation, evident in the machinations of all venomous creatures, that plays out in a grim endgame: a phantom dance, a poison kiss, and the luscious, unextractable sting. The piece was commissioned by oboist Michal Rogalski.