America the Beautiful
Duration: 3 minutes 45 seconds
Premiere (orchestra version): July 20, 2014, National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, Purchase, New York. David Robertson, conductor
Commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America
America the Beautiful,
beloved as a favorite patriotic hymn of many Americans, in some cases doubles as the U.S.’s unofficial second national anthem. The timeless words of Katharine Lee Bates set to Samuel A. Ward’s melody evoke the good and peaceful characteristics of our country.
This version, originally composed for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America as an encore for their 2014 tour and immediately transcribed for band, can be performed with or without chorus and/or audience participation. It is meant to portray the energy and optimism that our nation’s best young musicians experience as they combine their collective talents for an inspired summer of music creation.
The National Youth Orchestra of the USA performs America the Beautiful
Battery Park Suite
Duration: 10 minutes
Premiere: April 30, 2003, New Trier High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Featured at the Illinois MEA All-State Conference
Battery Park Suite
was written on commission from the New Trier High School (IL) Symphonic Wind Ensemble. I envisioned a composition which would feature the group’s outstanding percussion section. While this piece certainly does contain a considerable amount of percussion playing, I also used the qualities of the different percussion instruments as an organizing and structural principle for the ensemble and the work as a whole.
In the first three movements, I limited myself to using only the instruments from a single group in the percussion. Thus, the four movements are as follows:
- Metal - bright, shiny, brilliant;
- Drum - resonant, echoing, but also distant;
- Wood - sharp, biting, quick and rhythmic;
- Finale - a reworking of earlier material, using all the different types of percussion.
The titles of the first three movements are also types of objects that one might encounter in a park. As a New York City resident, the titles of my recent compositions have recalled different aspects of this city. This piece continues that trend, evoking the downtown park that overlooks the harbor, but there’s an appropriate twist - “battery” is also a term for the percussion section of a musical ensemble.
Bristol Hills Fanfare
Duration: 1½ minutes
Premiere: August 16, 1997, Bristol Hills Music Camp Senior Band, Canandaigua, New York. Gary Stith, conductor
Featured at the 1997 New York State School Music Association Conference
Bristol Hills Fanfare is a vibrant and festive work which was commissioned by the Bristol Hills Music Camp Senior Band in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the camp. The opening motive of a fourth, introduced by the brass, is developed in the fanfare’s primary theme stated by the winds. Polychordal punctuation and brilliant chords lead quickly to a percussion soli. This segues into a broad, expansive second theme as the first theme is simultaneously sounded in augmentation by the basses. As the opening character of this short work is reasserted, the band plays in rhythmic unison on its way to the end of the fanfare.
Duration: 11 minutes
Premiere: October 2, 2004, Saint Mary’s University Wind Ensemble, Winona, MN. Danuta Szlubowska, piano; Philip Rothman, conductor
When Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota, a Catholic university, commissioned this work for piano based on Jewish musical material, I knew it was a rare opportunity to realize how one musical tradition relates to another.
My point of departure was a melody one chants prior to reading the Book of Prophets in the Sabbath synagogue service. And as this commission was given in an ecumenical spirit, the piece I came to write was then four variations on this melody. Each variation is written in a different style that recalls some of the great composers of the last century.
In other words, I do not present the theme in a “traditional” Jewish way, but rather in a broader sense—much like traditional blessings traverse time and place, remaining constant yet nonetheless evolving by context.
The Gift of Peace
Duration: 5 minutes
Premiere: May 24, 2007; Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Band, Suffolk, VAThe Gift of Peace
is based on an earlier a cappella choral work I wrote in memory of Yitzhak Rabin. When beginning work on this new band piece, I found myself gravitating toward those melodies and harmonies that I composed some years ago, and the rich, full texture of wind band seemed like a natural fit for the chorale-like setting. The simplicity and universal message of peace and hope that was so central to what Rabin believed in is as relevant as ever. The title comes from the priestly benediction: “May the Lord turn his countenance unto you and give you peace.”The Gift of Peace
can be performed as a stand-alone band work or together with SATB chorus.
Monument Fanfare and Tribute
Duration: 4 minutes
Premiere: April 27, 2000; United States Military Academy Band, New YorkCommissioned by the Grant Monument Association
Every year thousands gather at the General Grant National Memorial in Manhattan, popularly known as Grant’s Tomb, to commemorate the birthday of Civil War hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant. The monument, internationally famous, is the largest building of its kind in the Western hemisphere and unprecedented in American history. To celebrate the millennial anniversary of this observance, Monument Fanfare and Tribute
was premiered at the monument on April 27, 2000.Monument Fanfare and Tribute
is a brilliant, stirring composition inspired by the grandeur of the Grant monument as well as the promise of the new millennium. Its opening brass flourishes are designed to evoke the festive nature of this outdoor communal gathering. After this initial fanfare recedes, an elegant, expansive theme emerges which conveys the "tribute" in the title. This dignified yet spirited tune is introduced quietly to distinguish a contrast with the initial bombast. The composer used the letters of Grant’s name in a musical fashion to spell out the first notes of this melody. The theme steadily builds in scope and volume until it is time for the brass fanfare to excitedly reappear. The main theme is then jubilantly presented as the composition reaches a sweeping, joyous conclusion.Monument Fanfare and Tribute
has been featured at The Midwest Clinic, the international conference Wind Music Across the Century at the New England Conservatory, and at the Virginia Intercollegiate Band Directors Symposium for New Music.
Duration: 6 minutes
Premiere: May 2, 2007; New Trier High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.Starsplitter
is a fast-moving, colorful soundscape, with each instrument playing an important role in the vibrant sonic palette. I arrived at the title after considering many combinations of celestial terms to describe this piece’s explosive energy.See the orchestral version of Starsplitter Order the CD
Performed by the DePauw University Band