The goal, always, was to speak directly to listeners. "A piece can be fairly complex, but I believe that there's a deal you make with your audience," he said in a 2001 interview with The Chronicle. "You make the piece as clear as you can, and they have to give it their undivided attention. And if you both keep to the deal, then there's a real communication going on."
While mentioning Imbrie's teachers including Leo Ornstein, Nadia Boulanger, and Roger Sessions, Robert Commanday also describes the composer:
What controls and guides the forces of Imbrie’s music is first a dialectic process, the musical idea generating both its own continuity and its contrasting response, and second his grasp of the whole, a vision of the music’s destiny.
His String Quartet No. 4 is a good example. This also reminds me the 20th century is over.