Grade 6

17 minutes

Commissioned by the Astoria Symphony Orchestra and premiered April 27, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Astoria, New York, Silas Nathaniel Huff, conducting

  1. Spirito (6 min.)
  2. Adagio (5-1/2 min.)
  3. Allegro (5 min.)

Most of my pieces for orchestra were written for themed children’s concerts, so I was thrilled when my friend and former Army colleague Silas Huff gave me the freedom to write anything I wanted…as long as the instrumentation matched the rest of his concert. Though he said I could push the boundaries in percussion, I accepted the challenge of sticking to the most traditional of instrumentation: woodwinds in pairs, two trumpets, two horns, timpani, and strings.

I decided early on to write a short three-movement symphony but didn’t have the entire piece mapped out when I began. Despite a somewhat aimless start, I’m very pleased with how it turned out: each movement references the other two in some way, however subtle.

The first movement is in sonata form with an abbreviated recapitulation; when the secondary theme reappears it plays simultaneously with the primary theme. The movement concludes with a brief coda.

With the exception of the last few bars, the second movement is scored for strings and solo oboe. That’s not what I intended when I started writing it, but I chose not to add other colors or complications when the music didn’t take me in that direction. This is the composition of a self-proclaimed “band guy” enjoying the lush, homogeneous sound of the strings.

Finally, the last movement is an energetic rondo that presents a “fast fiddling” motive in the violins and features a syncopated 9-beat-long ostinato based on the first three notes of the second movement’s oboe solo. The middle section of this movement (the second episode) is a jazzy take on the first theme heard at the beginning of the work.

I am grateful to Silas for the opportunity to write this piece, and also thank the wonderful musicians of the Astoria Symphony Orchestra for bringing it to life.