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RAINIER SUNRISE (2016): String Orchestra, Grade 4+, 5’00
Mount Rainier at 14,411 ft. is impressive with its incredibly commanding and breathtakingly beautiful presence in Washington State’s Cascade Range. Growing up as a native Seattleite, I often took for granted Mount Rainier’s majesty. When I moved elsewhere where city skylines were the dominant feature, I realized how much I missed the natural beauty and serenity of the mountains. I now relish hiking at Mount Rainier National Park during my summertime family visits. One particular summer hike on Rainier’s Sunrise Trail inspired a melody that wandered through my head for several years and served as the inspiration for this composition. Expressive melodic lines accompanied with lush and open chords capture the peaceful emotions I associate with the grandeur and beauty of Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Trail.
Legato bow strokes should be utilized throughout the entirety of this piece with the exception of measures 43-51 in which weighted bowing articulations should convey a sense of slight agitation. Performers should utilize vibrato accents (measures 49-50) in order to create warmth to the overall sound. A deliberately slow tempo throughout allows the shaping of long melodic phrases without any sense of hurry. Tremolo passages (measures 1-9, 35-39 and 52-end) must be performed closer to the bow’s tip in order to produce the correct texture.
Rainier Sunrise was co-commissioned by the Atholton High School Orchestras, Columbia, Maryland and the Carmel High School Orchestras, Carmel, Indiana. Special acknowledgement given to the grant funding provided by the Bright Minds Foundation (The Howard County Public Schools Educational Foundation), and the Carmel High School Orchestra Parents Club.
JOURNEY (2015): String Orchestra, Grade 2, 3’45
The term journey can evoke various images associated with travel. I purposely avoided a specific area or destination in the title in order to allow performers and listeners to create their own interpretation regarding this journey whether it be an actual physical destination or perhaps a personal life journey of sorts. This contemplative and hopeful piece should be performed tenderly and with a full array of emotions requiring the performer to demonstrate song-like phrasing as well as bowing techniques that produce various colors and dynamic levels.
Melodic lines should be performed with sustained legato bow strokes and rich continuous vibrato in order to imitate the singing human voice. Accompanying ostinato passages (first introduced by the second violin) require vibrato emphasis on the tenuto quarter notes while avoiding too much shortness on the hooked eighth-note bowings. First violin harmonics (measures 29-30 and 33-34) should strongly resonate above the tremolo lines. In addition, performers are encouraged to explore shifting into more advanced positions in order to create a warmer timbre. For example, the introductory first violin melodic line provides opportunity for work in the third position.
Journey was commissioned by Corinne Imboden for the Eastwood Middle School Orchestra (Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, Indianapolis, Indiana).
WONDROUS (2014): Symphony Orchestra, Grade 4+, 4’40
When composing Wondrous for the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra’s 2014 Midwest Clinic performance, I desired to capture the grandeur surrouding this celebratory occasion as well as the vibrant character of the youth performing this overture-style piece. My hope for both listeners and performers is that they gain a sense of inspiration, delight, excellence, and beauty upon listening to Wondrous. I am forever grateful to Mr. Soo Han and the fine young musicians of the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra for allowing me the opportunity to write for their Midwest Clinic performance.
Wondrous received its world premiere in Chicago at The Midwest Clinic on Saturday, December 20, 2014. Dr. Soo Han conducted the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra (Carmel, Indiana) in this performance.
THE MIGHTY COLUMBIA (2013): String Orchestra, Grade 3, 6’20
Video | Video | Score Sample | JW Pepper
The Columbia River (commonly referred to as ‘The Mighty Columbia River’) flows an impressive 1,200 miles through the Pacific Northwest of the United States. This piece portrays the awe-inspiring river’s journey beginning in British Columbia, Canada and continuing through Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
The introductory section incorporates expressive legato bow strokes. As intensity builds in measure 44, shorter bow strokes are recommended for the more rhythmic passages while soaring melodic themes are highlighted with legato and sustained strokes. Alternating left and right-hand pizzicato (first appearing in measure 80) should be used in violin and viola parts. First violins should divide at measure 88 in order to combine slurs with separated bow stroke patterns.
The Mighty Columbia was commissioned by Corinne Imboden for the Eastwood Middle School Orchestra (Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, Indianapolis, Indiana).
THREE METALLIC SPIRES (2012): Symphony Orchestra, Grade 4+, 6′
The Air Force Memorial located in Arlington, Virginia inspired the creation of Three Metallic Spires. The Memorial was formally dedicated to the Men and Women of the United States Air Force and its Heritage Organizations on October 14, 2006. Designed by James Ingo Freed, the three spires soar upward to heights approaching 270 feet producing the image of the “bomb burst” maneuver. Three Air Force core values are associated with each spire—integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all that is done. Additionally, the three spires represent the Air Force’s total force: active, guard, and reserve.
The piece captures both an Americana and dreamy feel with use of open harmonies and expansive melodic lines. The use of orchestra bells, vibraphone, celeste, piano, and harp contribute to an overall metallic orchestral timbre. The conclusion of the piece includes three ascending scale-type passages representing each of the three metallic spires reaching toward the heavens.
Three Metallic Spires received its world premiere on Friday, October 26, 2018. Dr. Soo Han conducted the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra (Cleveland, Ohio) in this performance.
QUARTZ MOUNTAIN BLUES (2011): String Orchestra, Grade 4, 4’40
Quartz Mountain Blues was composed while serving on the music faculty at the 2011 Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain. Two distinctive melodic ideas, jazzy versus melancholic, are independently presented before combining at the apex of the piece.
Quartz Mountain Blues was commissioned by Dr. Brenda Brenner (Indiana University Jacobs School of Music) and was premiered by the 2012 Kentucky Commonwealth String Orchestra.
McCORMICK FANFARE (2009): Symphony Orchestra, Grade 5, 4’08
Composed for the 2009 Midwest Clinic, McCormick Fanfare beings with a tranquil opening statement. Beneath the lyrical opening is a quick tempo, for which the opening statement is conducted in half time. The marimba and piano come to the forefront with the driving pulse and quickly changes the feel of the piece. Minimalist in construction, the quick tempo pulse is heard in the piano and percussion parts as a moving force throughout the work. The inner strings and woodwinds have a lyrical countermelody to the initial melodic statement that is quick and articulate. Brass dominant fanfare sections occur in the latter half of the work alternating with string flourishes. The dichotomy of the lyrical melodies along with the fast repeated rhythmic melody builds a thick texture over the entirety of the work. The ending comes after the climax of all voices restating the various melodic ideas.
McCormick Fanfare received its world premiere in Chicago at The Midwest Clinic on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. Dr. Soo Han conducted the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra (Carmel, Indiana) in this performance.