Starry Night

Grade 2

3 minutes

Commissioned by Cami Van Rossum and the Tabb Middle School Band, Yorktown, Virginia and premiered May 17, 2018

I’m not sure when or why the idea to write this piece formed in my head, but however it happened it stuck. The piece was an attempt to try a number of new things: first, to write a truly Grade 2-level piece, playable by second year players; second, to experiment with aleatoric musical elements and allow myself to “let go of the reins” some; and third, to write a piece that was a musical expression of another work of art.

Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” was filled with visual elements that translated well into music: the little church inspired a simple hymn, the swirls of color morphed into woodwind flourishes, and the bright stars became bursts of trumpet, bells, and triangle (as suggested by the students of the commissioning band).

I regret that I wasn’t able to attend the performance or even a single rehearsal leading up to the premiere of this piece because I was living on the opposite side of the world. Still, I offer my sincere thanks to Ms. Cami Van Rossum for the year-long effort she put into making the collaboration between composer and students as special as possible. She worked with the art department of her school to create learning opportunities across artistic disciplines, and encouraged the students to share their ideas and suggestions during the composition of the work, all of which made it into the final product!