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.