A Gradual Zoom Outward: Timo Andres’ “Checkered Shade”

Checkered Shade, a 2014 chamber work by American composer Timo Andres (b. 1985), demonstrates that the repetitive, pulse-based minimalism of early Steve Reich and John Adams still provides fertile musical ground. The piece opens with pulsating string harmonics reminiscent of Adams’ Shaker Loops or Common Tones in Simple Timeboth written in 1979. One passage suggests the cartoonish bombast of the final movement of Adams’ rule-breaking Grand Pianola Music. All of this is interspersed with jazzy flute licks and bass lines which would sound at home in a film score for a crime/action thriller.

Given its nods towards minimalism, Checkered Shade ends up in a much different place than you might expect. All of its pulses and patterns deliver us into a space of quiet, majestic, bluegrass-infused meditation. The composer, who cites the influence of the abstract ink drawings of Astrid Bowlby, describes the piece as

a gradual zoom outward; tiny fragments of repeated material resolve into larger patterns, which, at the urging of the violin, eventually coalesce into an expressive chorale.

Checkered Shade is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano. It’s included on Eighth Blackbird’s 2016 album, Hand Eye. 


  • Andres: Checkered Shade, Eighth Blackbird Amazon

Photograph: Astrid Bowlby’s “Chrysanthemum: cut paper petals and stickers” at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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