While completing his doctoral studies at the University of Texas, Mark Schultz wrote a trilogy of pieces based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, a series of stories that tell of the creation of Eä (“the world that is,” the universe in which Middle Earth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy is located) by the diety Eru Ilúvatar. The first of these pieces was composed for flute and tape, the next for cello and tape, and the third (Dragons in the Sky) for horn, percussion and tape.
The Silmarillion also tells of Ilúvatar’s creation of the Ainur, immortal spirits, the most powerful of which was called Melkor. Constantly desiring to destroy and “create” himself (though, always merely a re-creation of that which ultimately came from Ilúvatar), Melkor devolved to become the first of the evil forces imposing his authority through violence, and earning the new name Morgoth (“Black Foe of the World”). In this First Age of Middle Earth a great battle was fought in which Morgoth “throws his winged dragons into the fray with thunder, lighting, and a tempest of fire” against the elves. Through extended techniques in the horn (the instrument of the hunt, and the call to arms), an arsenal of percussion (arrayed from the aggression of drumbeats to the tintinnabular quality of the mallet instruments), and the atmospheric, otherworldly element of electronics, Dragons in the Sky musically depicts this epic struggle between good and evil.
From the program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot