Written for string orchestra, Life is Full of Surprises was written in 2021 and it lasts around 6 ¾ minutes in one movement.
The title captures the many surprises that life has for us, both good and bad. Its form suggests a rondo where the episodes between the main theme are variants of the theme itself. That main theme is in a complex rhythm based on eight pulses per bar, split unequally in groups of 3 plus 3 plus 2. This rhythm is set up from the start and the lively melody emerges, for the most part, using this rhythm. Sudden ‘surprises’ appear in the form of repeated chords.
The first episode is a slow chorale based on the theme, but in triple time. Half way through, the violas play this variant of the theme and chords played with a crescendo cuts through, lending another ‘surprise’ element.
The main theme returns, at first played slower and pizzicato. The tempo quickens and one phrase of the theme itself builds up from the basses with the rhythmic chords ending this section.
The second episode follows in complete contrast as it is very agitated, alternating with slower music based on the main theme. The changes of mood are therefore very sudden and unexpected.
The final section returns to the main theme itself, in the original complex rhythm, at first slow and with the melody slightly decorated. The tempo again picks up and some of the music in the opening section appears to be repeated, although some of it at different pitches. The tempo quickens further to the coda, which ends the piece triumphantly.