Chris Lamb (b. 1989) is an award-winning, American-born composer who has lived in various locales around the United States and the world (which you can read about further on his wonderful website).  His compositions include several works for band, a handful of orchestral pieces, a wealth of chamber music, and a three-act opera.  His studies have taken him from Newport University in Virginia to the University of North Texas and Arizona State University, where he recently received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

Chamber Symphony was written in 2016 as a commission for the Sun Valley Chamber Winds and their conductor Andy Pease.  After a “Prelude,” it proceeds into five additional movements (“Crocodile Stomp,” “The Problem with Monty Hall,” “Finding Ravens,” “Arrows in Flight,” and “Ship of Theseus”) which explore paradoxes.  Lamb provides detailed program notes describing the intellectual underpinnings of the piece:

Paradox – a statement or proposition that while seemingly logical, leads to an illogical and impossible conclusion

The Chamber Symphony is based off of a collection of famous paradoxes. Each movement borrows the feel and setting of the statements behind the paradoxes and explores the feeling they conjure.

The Crocodile Dilemma – A crocodile has stolen a child and tells the parent he will return the child if they can correctly guess what he plans to do with it. If they guess wrong than he will eat the child. If the parent guesses the child will be eaten and they are incorrect, then the crocodile eats the child and has thus validated the parent’s claim. If he returns the child because he intended to eat the child then he has violated his terms as they did not guess what he had done with the child.

The Monty Hall Problem – A game show host shows you 3 doors. Behind one is a car and behind the other two are goats. You choose one. He opens a different door that contains a goat. He asks you if you would like to change your choice. Would it benefit you to change your choice? Yes, your chances of finding the car are 2/3 if you change your choice. While this may seem impossible, one would assume all doors have a 1/3 chance of containing a car. Statistically your chances double when you change choices, due to the fact that the host knows there is a goat behind the door he has shown you.

The Raven Paradox – (1) All ravens are black (2) Everything that is not black is not a raven (3) This green apple is green and thus not a raven.  Somehow seeing a green apple has supported a hypothesis that all ravens are black.

The Arrow Paradox – “If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.” – Aristotle

The Ship of Theseus – You have a wooden ship. Over a long stretch of time you individually change out a single piece of wood. You keep the wood you switched out in a shed. After 100 years you have replaced each piece of wood. Additionally you use all the wood in the shed to build a ship. Which ship is your first ship? Is the one built with all of the original parts? Or the completely reconstructed one that has been docked throughout?

Chris Lamb
February 2016

Watch below for the world premiere performance by the Sun Valley Chamber Winds: