Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Composition Projects. 2015.

New pieces.

• Cradle of Rhythm (Concert Band) 5:00  Plankton Press (May, 2015) GR. 3

The latest premiere was presented on Friday, may 29, 2015 in the fantastic Kleinhans Concert Hall in Buffalo, New York.  I was commissioned to composer a piece of the Clarence High School Concert Band, Bill Eicher, director.  The piece was assembled as a "quilt" of rhythms and melodies that I heard while on concert tours with the Yale Concert Band in South Africa (2011) and Ghana (2014).  the concert band played it very well - with lots of energy, artistry, and excitement.  It is a real thrill when it all comes together and peaks at the concert!

I was one of a quartet of guest artists on this concert - which celebrated the 50th year of the Clarence High School in Kleinhans Concert Hall series.  My fellow composers were Robert Jager, whose Festival of Wind and Percussion was superbly played and well-received (I loved it; I want to perform it too!); David Maslanka, whose Hymn for World Peace was calming and moving, and powerful (I loved it; I want to perform it too!); and Arturo Sandoval, a mighty trumpeter who played with each group.  Now we are all friends!

Tom Duffy and Arturo Sandoval after the concert

  The experience was superlative.  My hosts - Bill Eicher and Lou Vitello - were completely committed to the quality of our experience, and started things off by introducing us to their extremely well-prepared ensembles.  We had fun and worked hard, both very important aspects of our successful interactions.  I extend my gratitude to the families of Mssrs. Eicher and Vitello - these two guys spent most of four days with us and/or their students!

The Sparrow and the Sunset (Concert Band) 5:00 Plankton Press (March, 2015) GR. 3

This piece was commissioned by the Bondurant (Kentucky) Middle School Band - Stephen Keyes, director - for its principal Casey Sparrow.  The people in this school have high respect for Mr. Sparrow and wanted to do something to show it.  I was asked to set the gospel hymn His Eye Is On The Sparrow for this band.  Mr Sparrow now has an eponymous tune!  I await news of the premiere.

• Ludwig Van Robot (String Orchestra) 7:30  Plankton Press (January, 2015)
This piece was commissioned by Leif Bjaland and the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, Waterbury, CT.  He asked that I write piece that could open the all-Beethoven concert for the WSO, and would allow the professional strings to play with the members of the WSO Youth Orchestra.  So, while the piece was written for a professional-level string orchestra, there are parts that allows embryos to advanced players to join in - with the music and the choreography!

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, opus 133, has intrigued musicians for almost two centuries. It was originally written as the final movement for the Opus 130 string quartet, but was “rejected” by the publishers as being “too enigmatic.” Beethoven agreed and rewrote the finale, leaving the Grosse Fuge as a separate entity. It has been described as impenetrable, enigmatic, and as a piece that will always be “contemporary music.”
         The fugue is a form of composition that presents thematic subjects in layers, which have to be carefully constructed so as to fit together. In Ludwig Van Robot, the mathematical components of the fugue are spun out in an almost mechanical fashion – repetitive fragments (all based on the theme from Beethoven’s Opus 133) grow to form rhythmic and melodic gestures, which break down and rebuild. One can hear the “circuitry” of the musical blueprint, lines connecting to other lines, which move in and out of the listener’s foreground. The performers also are part of the mechanized presentation – their bowings, pizzicato pluckings, and other body movements present a kind of visual fugue – not unlike the waves that pass through the bleachers at athletic events (although here they are in slow motion).
String Orchestra:
Violin 1
Violin 2

This piece has parts for younger players, who could join the more expert
string section. In each set, the professional parts are the first parts in each section (Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello 1, Contrabass 1) 

Back in the Blog

I can't believe that I haven't updates this blog in ... many years! Stupid.  Sorry.

International Projects.  Summer 2014.
The Yale Concert Band was fortunate to spend two weeks in Ghana, working with the Association of Yale Alumni to bring music and service to the capital of Accra, the city of Cape Coast and the village of Yamoransa.  This video clip tells the story:

3:00 video clip of Ghana project 2014:

Articles about the Ghana project

• Christian Science Monitor

• New Haven Register

• Yale School of Music newsletter:

• Yale Alumni Magazine: