wind ensemble works

KATANYA (2013)
For Concert Band and Narrator

listen score

• Duration: 15’ (1 movement)
• Commisioned by the Helen and Sam Kaplan Foundation (St. Mary's University Kaplan Commissioning Project)
• Instrumentation: Narrator/ 2 + picc. (2 doub alto), 2 (2 doub. Eng. Hn.), 3 + B. Cl., 2/ 2 alt. sax., 1 ten. sax., 1 bar., sax./ 4,3,2+bass trb., 1 Euph., 1/ double bass/ 6 perc./ pno.

• Premiere: The Saint Mary's University Concert Band - Dr. Janet Heukeshoven, conductor (9/28/13)
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

In 2011, I was greatly honored to be selected as the commissioned composer for the Helen and Sam Kaplan Foundation commissioning project at St. Mary's Univeristy. The commission is for a piece for symphonic band by a Jewish composer based on a Jewish theme. I knew early on that I wanted to try my hand at a dramatic piece for band and narrator, and after cullung through many different materials, I was delighted to find the story of Katanya, a Jewish folk tale from Turkey contained in Howard Schwartz's collection of Jewish oral tales, Leaves from the Garden of Eden.

Like other Jewish tales such as Jewish versions of Cinderalla, this tale mixes Jewish elements with universal elements, and as Schwatz points out, Katanya is clearly a variant of the Tom Thumb/Thumbelina tale type. The story is a quintessentailly Jewish tale howver, in that it features the Prophet Elijah, who appears in countless Jewish tales as a supernatural figure appearing in disguise to help a worthy person in need.

I tried to reflect this mixed qualithy in the music as well. The story spoke to me in its directness and simplicity, and it immediatately suggested a magical, dreamlike, and Ravelian sound world. Many of the musical motives however, are based on Katanya's final song, which is an imitation of the many Jewish folk songs that I grew up with.

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Musical Pictures from American Lumberjack Folklore
For Wind Ensemble (with or without narrator)

(also available in abridged 4-movement version(14', movements 1,2,5, and 9 below)

listen score

• Duration: 22’ (9 movements)
• Commissioned by the "President's Own" United States Marine Band
• Instrumentation: 2 + picc. (2 doub alto), 2 +Eng. Hn., 3 + B. Cl. (1 doub. Eb). 2(2 doub. Ctr. Bsn/ 2 alt. sax., 1 ten. sax., 1 bar. sax. / 4, 3, 2+ bass trb., 2 Euph., 1 / double bass / 5 perc. / pno. (doub cel.)
• Premiere: the "President's Own" United States Marine Band -- Col Michael J. Colburn, conductor., 7/20/12

• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

Out in the woods at night, in the frontier wilderness of North America, lumberjacks told stories of the fantastic and often deadly creatures that they had encountered. The result is a genre of American folklore called "fearsome critters." Many of these creatures are now extinct, but some may still be encountered in the wild, so be wary. That strange sound you hear might the wind . . .

Or it might be a snoligoster . . .

Based on descriptions in Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by William T. Cox (1910), Fearsome Critters by Henry H. Tyron (1939), and The Wampus Society (2011).

1. Introduction: Night; in the Woods

2. The Hodag (Deformis corniger lacrimans)
The ferocious Hodag has bulging eyes, a maniacal smile, a row of spikes down its back, the head of an ox, the body of a dinosaur, and a shovel-like nose. It feasts upon white bulldogs (but only on Sundays), and he hates when you laugh at him.

3. The Hidebehind (Ursus dissimulans)
The only ones to see the grizzly Hidebehind are its victims. Stealthily concealed behind tree trunks, the critter leaps on the unsuspecting lumberjack, disemblowling him with one swipe. The Hidebehind has a severe aversion to alochol - one shot of good whiskey is a successful repellent.

4. Night; in the Woods

5. The Squonk (Lacrimacorpus dissolvens)
With its misfitting skin covered with warts and moles, the melancholy Squonk may be heard weeping under the boughts of dark hemlock trees on frosty moonlight nights.

6. The Goofus Bird (Fulica stultusregrediens)
Frequently heard but seldom seen, this poor creature doesn't care where it's going. It only cares where it's been, so it always flies backwards. Also known as the Filla-Ma-Loo Bird, it usually builds its nest upside down and its eggs are Grade D.

7. The Snoligoster (Dorsohastatus caudirotula)
The hige Snoligoster resembles a crocodile, but it has no legs or fins - just one large spike on its back. Its body is covered with long glossy fur and it propels itself through the swamp with a propeller-like tail.

8. Night; in the Wood

9. The Whirling Whimpus meets the Cactus Cat
At sundown, the Whilrling Wimpus (Turbinocissus nebuloides) stands by a bend in the trail and whirls on its single hind hoof. Whirling so fast it becomes invisible, and all you can hear is a strange droning sound. Meanwhile, the Cactus Cat (Cactifelinus inebrius) greedily gets drunk on the sap of giant cacti and runs off howling into the night. Watch out cat! The Whimpus is about to turn you into syrup!

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For Wind Ensemble

listen score

• Duration: 8’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 2 + picc. (2 doub alto), 2 +Eng. Hn., 3 (3 doub. B. Cl). 2 / 2 alt. sax., 1 ten. sax., 1 bar. sax. / 4, 3, 2+ bass trb., 2 Euph., 1 / double bass /Timp./ 4 perc. / pno.
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

We Tread and Go is a one-movement work for wind ensemble. The title is taken from Chaucer and is expressive of the overall mood of the work. Like several other of my works, the piece is a kind of developing variation, in which a simple G Phrygian melody repeatedly cycles back on itself to reveal new permutations and dimensions. Throughout is a simple descending bass line punctuated by the heartbeat of an ever-present timpani.

The melody is first stated unadorned by the euphoniums. After coming to a climax, it returns to a variation of itself, this time counterpointed by a solo trumpet. A third cycle features the melody in a further variation introduced by the tenor saxophone in triplets. A sixteenth-note variation dominates the next section as the energy increases, building to a climax in which the melody returns to G Phrygian for yet another variation. The energy then dissipates dramatically as fragments from earlier material are stated longingly by solo woodwinds, winding the piece down to a close.

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For Trumpet and Wind Ensemble
For John Hagstrom, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

• Duration: 4’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: Solo C Trumpet + 2 (2 doub alto), 2 (2 doub Eng. Hn), 2 (2 doub B. Cl. / 2 alt. sax. (1 doub sopr.), 1 ten. sax., 1 bar. sax. / 4, 2, 2, 1 / double bass / timp., 2 perc./ pno (doub cel.)
• Premiere: John Hagstrom, trumpet; the "President's Own" United States Marine Band -- Col Michael J. Colburn, conductor., 3/15/10

• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

In 2002, Chicago Symphony trumpeter John Hagstrom premiered Awake, You Sleepers!, my concerto for trumpet and wind ensemble. Awake was based on Jewish motives and melodies from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy and the calls of the shofar, the ancient ram's horn sounded throuhgout the High Holiday season.

In 2009, when John asked me to write a tranquil encore piece as an epilogue to Awake and related to the same tradition, I decided to base the new piece around the special sundown service called Neila.

The last time that the shofar is sounded during the High Holiday season is at the very end of Yom Kippur, which falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur is the day to atone for sins of the year- a culmination of the process that begins on Rosh Hashanah. The final service is called Neilah, meaning "locked," and the dominant metaphor of the service is the closing of the gates of repentance. According to tradition, once the gates are closed, the shofar is sounded, Yom Kippur is over, and ones' fate for the year is sealed in the Book of Life. The Closing of the Gates is based on various traditional Ashkenazic Jewish motives and captures the hushed, redemptive quality of the Neilah service.

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HADRA (2004)

• Duration: 20’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 2+picc. (2 doub alto), 2+Eng. Hn., 3 + B. Cl. (1 doub Eb). 2 / 2 alt. sax. (1 doub sopr.), 1 ten. sax., 1 bar. sax. / 4, 3, 2 + bass trb., 2 Euph., 1 / electric bass / 6 perc. / cel.
• Commissioned by Dennis Johnson and Tim Reynish, Past Presidents of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE)
• Premiere: the Murray State University Wind Ensemble - Dennis Johnson, conductor, 4/27/05
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

Hadra is inspired by my 2004 stay in Fez, Morocco where I had the privilege of participating in several trance-dancing rituals unique to Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco. These rituals, which extend to the early hours of the morning, involve chanting, dancing, and highly percussive instrumental performances. Each session usually involves a slowly increasing tempo leading to an enormous climax of dense percussion and repeated syllables. The goal is to reach to an ecstatic state in which the individual members of the group are subsumed into the collective energy known as hadra or “presence.” My wind ensemble piece is in one sense part of a tradition of musical travelogues (Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Ellington, etc.) in which a composer paints a musical portrait of foreign culture by lovingly and respectfully appropriating musical elements from that culture and blending it into his or her own style in a unique way. In another and perhaps deeper sense, my piece is an attempt to capture and in some ways reenact the ritual power of this transforming ceremony.

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Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble
For John Hagstrom, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Also available in version for Trumpet and Orchestra (2010)

PURCHASE CD with John Hagstrom, trumpet; US Marine Band
PURCHASE CD with Robert Murray, trumpet; Nanset Wind Orchestra
PURCHASE CD with Mark Clodfelter, trumpet; University of KY Wind Ens.

• Duration: 17’ (3 movements)
• Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation
• Instrumentation:Solo C trumpet + 2 + picc. (2 doub alto), 2 +Eng. Hn., 3 + B. Cl. (1 doub. Eb). 2 / 2 alt. sax., 1 ten. sax., 1 bar. sax. / 4, 3, 2+ bass trb., 2 Euph., 1 / double bass / 4 perc. / pno. (doub cel.)
• Premiere: John Hagstrom, trumpet; the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra -- Tim Reynish, conductor., 7/2/02
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)
• Recordings: John Hagstrom, trumpet and the "President's Own" United States Marine Band-- Col. Michael Colburn, conductor, Mark Recordings (4742-MCD); Robert Murray, trumpet and the Nanset Winds Orchestra -- Odd Terje Lysebo, conductor, Mark Recordings; Mark Clodfelter, trumpet and the University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble -- Tim Reynish, conductor, Mark Recordings (5342-MCD)
• Recognition: Finalist of Distinctive Merit -- Big Ten Band Commission, Big Ten Band Directors Association / Finalist for Saint Mary's University Kaplan Commissioning Project (2003, 2009)

1. Tekiah 2. Shevarim 3. Teruah

The ancient instrument known as the shofar, or ram's horn, has a special place in the Jewish tradition. Legend recounts that its sound was heard at the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, the tumbling walls of Jericho, as a call for battle, and that its sound will be heard to herald a messianic era. The instrument has survived through post-Biblical and contemporary times and features prominently in the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The blowing of the shofar in the Rosh Hashanah service is a call for repentance, symbolically awakening the sleeper from a moral and spiritual slumber.

Each of the three movements of Awake, You Sleepers! is based on one of the three calls associated with the blowing of the shofar. Tekiah is a long note rising in pitch; shevarim is three shorter notes; and teruah is a long repeated staccato blast. Each movement is also preceded by well-known verses from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. Much of the music for Awake, You Sleepers! is based on Rosh Hashanah motives and melodies that occur in the German/East-European musical tradition.

"One of the finest additions to the trumpet and wind ensemble repertoire to date." -- Vince DiMartino, President Emeritus, International Trumpet Guild

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ONE FOR ALL (1995)

• Duration: 20’ (3 movements)
• Instrumentation: 2+picc. (2 doub alto), 2+Eng. Hn., Eb Cl, 2 + B. Cl. / 2 alt sax (1 doub sopr.), 1 ten sax, 1 bar sax / 4, 3, 2+ bass trb., 2 Euph., 1 / double bass / 4perc/ pno. / cel

1. Introduction; 2. Interlude; 3 One for All

One for All is a three movement work. The opening “Introduction” is dominated by a spiky theme in the brass and percussion that is overlaid by and ultimately overcome by more relaxed material played by the woodwinds. A brief “Interlude” follows, followed by the third movement, “One for All,” the main movement of the piece. This movement is an orchestration of a two piano work entitled One for Two, and in it I attempt to explore different ways of combining evolving cycles of rhythm and harmony with more narrative, goal-oriented processes – a preoccupation of mine in later works as well. The movement falls roughly into three sections: a highly rhythmic opening section that thins out to an extended slower moving and dreamier middle section, leading to a return to the rhythmic energy of the opening.

One for All was written in fulfillment of my D.M.A. dissertation requirements at Cornell.

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Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Chamber Winds (or Chamber Orchestra)

• Duration: 9’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 2 (1 doub picc.), 1, Eng. Hn., 2 (1 doub Eb), 2 / 2, 2, 1 / timp./ hp. / str.
• Premiere: Sudip Bose, violin, Stephanie Vial, cello, the Festival Chamber Orchestra- Mark Scatterday, conductor, 4/8/95
• Recognition: Winner of 1996 ASCAP Foundation Young Composers Competition
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

During the writing of To Touch the Sky, I was interested in exploring ways to generate musical form from long-breathed phrases of melody. Lightly scored for solo violin and cello and a chamber ensemble of winds, percussion, and double bass, To Touch the Sky basically falls into three sections. A free, arching melodic line presented by the solo cello dominates the first section. This is answered by a similar melody in the solo violin. Finally, the two come together in a more rhythmic song to close the piece. The ensemble provides support and countermelodies throughout. This approach seemed to provide an alternative to the more “confrontational” approach to concerted works in which soloists are pitted “against” each other and the larger ensemble.

To Touch the Sky was written for my friends Sudip Bose and Stephanie Vial.