Grades 4-6–18 minutes
Premiered by The United States Army Strings of The U.S. Army Band, October 26, 2014 at Fairfax United Methodist Church, Fairfax, VA, First Lieutenant Silas Nathaniel Huff, conducting
- Suzan’s Gigue (Grade 6)
- Colleen’s Waltz (Grade 5)
- Karen and Rebecca’s Tango (Grade 5)
- Allie’s Lullaby (Grade 4)
- Anne’s Hoedown (Grade 6)
Listen to the premiere:
When I was assigned to The United States Army Band, I often heard the rehearsals of The U.S. Army Strings emanating from the studio down the hall. What a wonderful sound it was, and not at all conductive to getting work done–all I’d want to do is stop whatever I was doing and listen to the music.
My primary instrument in school was saxophone, so I often joke no one would let me play in the orchestra let alone write for it! I’d composed for years without an opportunity to write for the soothing, lush sound of the strings, and I knew I’d have to take advantage of it while I was assigned to The U.S. Army Band.
The most important performances by The Army Strings are State dinners and other official government functions. They will literally serenade the senior civilian and military leaders of the U.S. by strolling around the room, usually during coffee and dessert. It’s a wonderful way to demonstrate professionalism and respect to honored guests. The title of my work, ‘Serenades,’ is both a nod to what the Army Strings do for our country, but also a tip of my hat to the famous string serenades of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak (which I studied during the composition of these movements).
As I composed this piece, it occurred to me that I was writing music that suited the personalities of the women of my life, so I dedicated the five movements appropriately. I had always envisioned the first melodic idea for ‘Suzan’s Gigue’ as a piano piece, so it is dedicated to my mom, Suzan. My daughter Colleen, a ballerina, gets a Tchaikovsky-esque waltz. My sisters, Karen and Rebecca, would sometimes get silly around each other, and I picture them doing a mock tango during the third movement. My other daughter Allie was just a baby while I was composing this piece, so she gets a lullaby. Finally, my wife is a fan of country music (and jokes that she’s a “country bumpkin”), so the hoedown is for her.