Frontiers

Full Orchestra

Grade 3–6.5 minutes

Listen to MIDI realization:

This piece was composed specifically for Dave Burke’s Fairbanks Youth Concert Orchestra up in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I actually visited the state several years ago when my grandmother took my sisters and I on a two-week cruise of Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Dave asked for a piece “uniquely Alaskan” and although I could never really work in an overt Alaskan reference into the piece, I did keep the terrain and the people’s fierce pride of their heritage in mind as I wrote.  The title refers to both the natural wonders of Alaska’s landscape and the goals of a young musician as he or she develops his or her abilities.  In either case, the depth and richness of these frontiers are seemingly endless.

‘Frontiers’ was a challenging piece to write.  My opportunities to write for strings are limited, and that alone made things difficult.  But pile on the fundamental problem that strings like sharp keys and most woodwinds and brass prefer flats.  Plus, the group had kids in ages ranging from middle school to seniors in high school.  So I eventually settled on the string-friendly keys of D and G, and was careful to monitor the other parts for difficult fingerings and give them a fair amount of motor rhythms to keep the piece moving.

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