The  Eleventh  Heaven   (full orchestra)

Full Orchestra (pgs. 13-34)

NOV. 2015

About the piece:

Ilhuícatl-Teotlacuauhco, ‘The Heaven Where the Red God is’


Recipient of the 68th BMI Student Composer Award and the 2020 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, The Eleventh Heaven is inspired by two pre-hispanic subjects: the eleventh level of the heavens in Nahua cosmology, and the visual representation of such cosmological systems as illustrated by pre-hispanic societies.


Nahuas believed in a cosmos organized vertically containing thirteen levels of heavens, each home to different deities and forces of nature. The eleventh heaven is described by the Nahuas as the red region beyond the stars; the red sky full of rays of light where the dying sun and twilight reside. Within this heaven lives Xiuhtecutli, god of the fire of creation, and Chantico, goddess of wrath and volcanoes.

The Eleventh Heaven also mirrors the mechanics of the Nahua representations of this cosmological system, particularly those found in the first page of the Fejérváry-Mayer Codex. Historicism, the quest for transcendence, is a central theme in the codex. The piece explores the conflict between the persistence of memory and the fleeting nature of human memory itself. The piece demonstrates this conflict through the constant repetition of the main theme, the acoustic range, and the almost perpetual fortissimo observed throughout the piece.

The glyphs that can be observed throughout the codex serve as pictographic references that both interact with and add to the scene being depicted as a whole. The codex is meant to be both a piece of literature and a piece of visual art: to be read and to be contemplated. In response, The Eleventh Heaven explores a layering approach to form in its development, while emphasizing repetition of both motivic and textural elements in their dynamic relations.


Instrumentation: 2+picc.3.2+Ebcl.2 / 4.3.2+btbn.1 / 4perc / pn.cl.hp / str



     2 Flute (2nd doubling to Piccolo)

     3 Oboes

     Eb Clarinet

     2 Clarinets in Bb

     2 Bassoons


     4 Horns in F

     3 Trumpets in C (Harmon Mute)

     2 Tenor Trombones (Harmon mute)

     Bass Trombone



     Percussion (4 players)

     Percussion 1: Xylophone, Tambourine, Snare Drum, Glockenspiel

     Percussion 2: Hi-hat, Chimes, China Suspended Cymbal, Vibraphone, Marimba

     Percussion 3: Bass Drum, Maracas, Whip, China Suspended Cymbal

     Percussion 4: Tam-Tam (Large), China Suspended Cymbal, Tubular Bells, Guiro


     Piano (doubling Celesta)






El Onceavo Cielo

The Eleventh Heaven 

Recipient of the 68th BMI Student Composer Award | 2020 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award