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Concerto for Wind Ensemble

March 13, 2007 Uncategorized

Sunday afternoon, I finished my “Concerto for Wind Ensemble” for the USAF Band of Mid-America, led by Commander Donald Schofield. Cdr. Schofield asked me for something virtuosic, and we batted around ideas along the lines of a concerto grosso that represented the USAF Thunderbirds. As the idea evolved, I gravitated away from a specific, fixed concertino group opposed to the wind ensemble toward a full concerto for winds, focusing on small groups, often individual players, and shifting this throughout the entire ensemble. To highlight the separation, and also to pay homage to the Thunderbirds, I placed several instruments antiphonally above and around the audience: 2 horns left and right, 2 trumpets left and right, 2 clarinets left and right, and a clarinet and trumpet directly behind. I think the results will be spectacular, as various lines jump around the concert hall. While there’s a fair amount of virtusoic, technical daredevilry (is that a word?), the piece also has a surprising amount of quiet, lyric material.

The title has been problematic for two reasons.

1) I swore long ago I’d never call a piece by any standard title, such as “Symphony,” or “Sonata,” etc.
2) A concerto is usually multiple movements of 15 minutes or more. This is only 7’30”.

The title “Concertino” is actually the appropriate word for a small concerto, but it just sounds… small … like a chamber work. This piece, while dealing extensively with small groups within the larger ensemble, is anything but ‘small’ in its attitude…

So, I guess I should write two more movements to this thing… maybe over the course of 10 years, like the Parody Suite

It’s been a blast to write this piece. The antiphonal instruments opened up a world of orchestrational possibilities. I managed to compose it in 24 days, from very first note to double-bar, though I hope it doesn’t sound like that…

The premiere is scheduled for their Wisconsin tour April 12th-18th (Appleton, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Fish Creek, Sheboygan, Hartford, and Lake Geneva). Not sure I’ll be able to make any of the performances, as I’m in residence at St. Charles East HS that week, and then have a major concert of several of my works at BGSU on the 14th, but we’ll see…

I finished the parts around 3:30 this morning, so I think I will take a long nap now…