The Hellroaring Plateau is a landmass on the northeast extremity of the Absaroka mountain range straddling the Montana-Wyoming border. Its relatively flat topography and high elevation lead to intense winds and unpredictable storms bestowing the plateau’s colorful moniker. Contrary to the title, the music reflects a compilation of impressions from multiple visits over a decade’s time, gathered with my son’s first-hand reports of overnight stays, rather than a single day’s experience. My original objective for the music was to portray the stark and stony landscape alternatively caressed and buffeted in a stew of breezes and gales, sunshine and storms. However, as I was writing the piece it became apparent the true theme of the music is rather a daily high-altitude drama between light and darkness, a drama staged on the plateau’s rocks, meadows, streams, and lakes depicting a perpetually shifting kaleidoscope of distinctive lighting unlike any I have experienced elsewhere. The transparent, thin air reveals indigo blue skies and scalding-white clouds overarching stunning vistas stretching a hundred miles or more. The landscape glitters under the radiance of high-latitude sunlight. The only word I can think of to describe the golden glow of sunbeams slicing through a summer snow squall is ethereal. The utter absence of artificial light makes for the darkest night skies and brightest stars one can experience on earth.
Of course, it is impossible, or at least beyond my meager skills, to capture all of this in a few minutes of music. Still, the lasting impression this singular example of creation has made on my heart compels me to make the attempt. I hope the result lets you experience at least a touch of the sensation of being there.
Andaluza, taken from Manuel de Falla’s piano suite Cuatro Piezas Españolas, is aimed at the mainstream high school band in the United States at the grade 4 level. Boisterous tuttis, intimate solos, and passionate melodies make for an engaging excursion into Spanish folk music that allows students to explore the adventurous harmonies of de Falla’s impressionistic vocabulary. The variety of colors and energy available in the modern concert band amplify the life, drama, and humanity de Falla poured into his piano version. Andaluza will thus prove a thrill for both performers and audience as it celebrates this life, drama, and humanity.
Soprano Sax is called for on an expressive solo but is fully cued in oboe. The absence of this instrument need not prevent an integral performance of the music.
Optional parts are provided for Eb Clarinet, Treble Clef Baritone, and Double Bass for those bands having these available.
CONJUNCTION interprets the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn near the end of the year 2020 as a celestial metaphor for the good news of Christ’s birth in a replay of the Star of Bethlehem. Hence, its subtitle of “The Christmas Star of 2020.” The music, along with narration from selected Old and New Testament scriptures, delivers a message of hope amid the turmoil and chaos of current times.
It’s written for smaller concert bands hungry for challenging music. Ample cues and doubling allow for flexible instrumentation while mixed meters, varying tempos and textures, and interesting solo lines provide opportunities for your musicians to display their “chops.”
concert band realization by Evensong Productions, Inc.
For Concert Band
Prepare for a dramatic musical journey along one of America’s most beautiful backroads, the Beartooth Highway. Eastern Ascent takes a white-knuckled climb from the lush forest floor of Rock Creek Canyon up steep switchbacks past sheer 2,000 foot drops to the highway’s summit amid the alpine tundra at 10, 947 feet of elevation. The music’s tension matches the roadway’s rising elevation in incremental shifts from calm sonorities to raucously intense dissonances. Brief roadside respites appear as islands of quiet lyricism. The band unites in jubilant exultation as it depicts the extraordinary other worldliness and wildness viewed at the highway’s peak. Listen for hints of the motive from the classic hymn tune HAMBURG in the respites and in the climax. Eastern Ascent is set for large scale concert band or wind ensemble and is suitable for advanced high school and higher players. Purchase price includes full score and set of parts.
From the lone asphalt ribbon crossing the Hellroaring Plateau, a landmass on the northeast extremity of the Absaroka mountain range straddling the Montana-Wyoming border, one may note a distant narrow peak rising to the sky like a bear’s lower canine. Appropriately known as The Bear’s Tooth, this 300 foot pyramidal spire rises from the flank of Beartooth Mountain to a height of 11, 920 feet. It’s set amid stunning vistas stretching over a hundred miles lying underneath indigo skies with clouds seemingly within one’s grasp. Thus, the Bear’s Tooth earns its place as the inspiration and namesake for this movement of the Absaroka Suite, The Beartooth. The music is less programmatic than the other movements of the suite. To put it in other words the music doesn’t tell a story. Rather, developing themes introduced in Eastern Ascent, it reflects emotions sparked by the alpine landscape: wonder and awe at the massive landforms, a sense of life, freedom, and spaciousness amid the big skies and clear air polished with serenity in nature’s reflection of its Creator’s glory. The landscape’s heights and verticality are represented with persistently rising and contrastingly plunging motives. Bold punctuations evoke the awe of such a vast expanse. The cantering main theme expresses sensations of freedom, danger, and smallness, so unfamiliar to we technologically immersed, which must have been the staple diet of early explorers and natives in this land, lying much as it has for millennia. The theme’s upward leaps portray the peak’s sudden rising. The closing, fittingly marked “Serene,” imparts the utter peace one feels having come to know such an extraordinary place, to agree with the writer of Genesis 1:31: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”