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Western Suite

  • "Western Suite" was a FINALIST for The American Prize 2013 in the Orchestra Division. Commissioned by Ivan Shulman and The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra and premiered by them in Santa Barbara, CA. A warm, colorful, tuneful programmatic piece describing the west where I grew up, Western Suite (aka Montana Morning) is Coplandesque with interesting twists and turns. Numerous professional and community orchestras have performed Western Suite across the country. Moderate in difficulty, an outstanding trumpet player is needed. Though this piece is scored with harp and piano, it has been performed successfully on numerous occasions without one or both. Recent performances include The Virginia Symphony, Wes Kenney conducting two performances, The Conway Symphony, John Roscigno conducting an All American Program, The Old Post Road Symphony, Neal Schermerhorn conducting, The Hewlett-Packard Symphony Orchestra, George Yefchek conducting, Culver City Symphony Orchestra, Frank Fetta, conductor and Music Director, and The Southeast Symphony, Anthony Parnther, Music Director and conductor. "Western Suite" was released on a CD recorded by The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Australia with Sean O'Boyle conducting. Titled Soliliquy, the CD was released on ABC Classics. Other North American composers on this wonderful album include Nancy Bloomer Deussen, Carson Coonan, Jennifer Higdon, and Robert Wendel. For more details, go to their website. As a native of the American West, I have always been deeply affected by the large scale of the vast landscapes and craggy shapes that dominate our region. In "Western Suite", I've attempted to draw from my well of emotional interior images and interpret them musically. I have chosen to use the programmatic (rather than absolute) language of music to paint aural pictures through open melodies and harmonies contrasted with minimalistic techniques. Ivan Shulman heard a short piece of mine titled "Buffalo Girls" and encouraged me to expand it. And so the first movement of "Western Suite" was conceived. The Suite opens with a solo oboe playing a tranquil melody representing a sunrise and as the sun grows in the sky, more instruments are added to fill in the harmonic landscape. A solo trumpet heralds the beginning of the work day as the strings pizzicato in syncopation to the Hoedown melody. The horns join the hoedown "dance" melody and transition into a lyrical section for solo oboe, winds and strings conjuring up pictures of a vast, purple sky. A transition into another dancelike section using muted trombones in rhythmic contrast to a flute, clarinet, and violin trio melody carries us into another lyrical section for the strings, woodwinds, and horns. The woodwinds rhythmically pulsate in a minimalist exercise as two trumpets "converse." Their duet/dialogue is interrupted by the recapitulation of the opening theme now played by the oboe, piano, and strings. The movement closes with a flourish of motifs of the hoedown theme played in counterpoint to the pealing of tubular bells, finishing with a joyful surge of orchestral colors.
  • 2222 4231 hp, pn, perc, timp, stgs
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