for three youth orchestras and optional choir
Three finale themes placed into a grand spectacle
3 Youth Orchestras (optional choir)
In the Fall of 2017, Laurie Williams, DMA (Director of the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock Symphony) approached me and inquired about commissioning a piece for the organization. We had first been introduced a couple years ago by a mutual colleague of ours, Dr. David Becker (former Director of Orchestras at Texas Tech University); the TTU orchestras had performed my original compositions at the annual Halloween Hauntcert the previous two years.
I was very excited to compose for the organization and organized a meeting to discuss the commission. While drinking coffee, we both began to organize our ideas about what instrumentation and approach the music should take to celebrate 30 years of continuous prosperity and education. We came to the conclusion that the piece should sound "epic" and carry a film-like quality –– I threw in the idea that we should add a choir (volunteers from the Lubbock Chorale) –– and should incorporate all three orchestras playing together on stage at the same time. And thus, a commission was underway and so were other hurdles that made it an interesting journey.
I withheld working on the music until my trip to China; I teach most every year at various conservatories, most commonly Guangxi Arts University in Nanning, China. I became ill after completing my time in Guangxi and remained ill until I came from China a month later. During my time there, I lost the work that I had been doing on the music when a thief stole my laptop which had all my saved data. I would not be able to begin working on the music until I got home on January 14th and the commission was due on the 21st (only about 4 days to get it done).
To ruin the punchline, yes, I did finish the music in time; otherwise, this event would not have included me so graciously.
The music itself features 3 orchestras on stage, all varying in age/skill levels, with 6 percussionists, and an optional choir. The oldest orchestra (Orchestra I - YOL Symphony) opens the work with a pretty, floating melody in the winds that progresses to the brass and finally strings until the first grand entrance where all three orchestras play vibrantly.
After a grand pause, the youngest orchestra (Orchestra III - YOL Prelude), takes on Theme One's melody with Orch I accompanying them. The melody is then overtaken by the middle orchestra (Orchestra II - YOL Philharmonic) and embellished upon. This theme is triumphant and exciting for a celebratory occasion.
The Brass is featured next with a swooning horn melody that resembles the solemnity after a tragic event. Theme Two uses the brass to help the listener reflect on all the struggles we face every day to achieve our dreams. The low strings begin a transition that builds until a beautiful little flute melody sings out laying the groundwork for the final theme.
Theme Three comes from my Piano Prelude 1, from The Seasons, which I wrote at the young age of 12. This melody encompasses hope and the desires that we have to follow our passion and to be happy in life. It is a beautiful melody that I believe captures the true essence of hope. The woodwinds then take over as the melodic element while the low strings and brass begin to build tension to the grand finale reprise of Theme One. Triumphantly ending as is began, all three orchestras conclude with a dazzling display of rhythm and excitement. It was truly a fun piece to compose.
I did this work free of charge because I know that youth organizations and schools do not have the budget they really need to the amazing things that they do.
The Youth Orchestras of Lubbock will perform their 30th anniversary concert on Sunday, March 4 at 4 p.m. in the Civic Center Theaterlocated at 1501 Mac Davis Ln, Lubbock, TX 79401. The concert will be free and open to the public.
The Prelude Strings Orchestra will perform first under the direction of conductor Kathleen Smith. Music performed by the Prelude group will include Rondo by composer Lennie Niehaus, and Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.
Jeremy Isley will lead the YOL Percussionists in a chamber ensemble piece with a jazz theme. Conductor Dr. Ross Ipsen will lead the Philharmonic Orchestra in performance of Merle Isaac’s arrangement of Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 by Geroges Bizet. The Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform a Slavonic Dance from Dvorak’s Opus 46, and Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5.
The Symphony Orchestra Strings will join Philharmonic Orchestra strings for a collaborative presentation of the string feature Andante by Alfonso Leng. Then, the brass and woodwind musicians from the Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras will join to perform the wind ensemble Burn, which composer Roland Barrett wrote in dedication to the Dallas Wind Symphony.
The Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Laurie Williams, will perform Mozart’s Concerto in B-flat major for Bassoon and Orchestra featuring soloist Daniel McCarty on bassoon. The Lubbock High senior won the honor during the fall concerto competition. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform Light Calvary Overture by Franz Suppe, and the fourth movement of Kalinnikov’s Symphony 1.
The finale will feature a unique musical score by composer and Texas Tech University student William Linthicum-Blackhorse. Of his work, Linthicum-Blackhorse has said, “It is my hope to bring … all the enjoyment I can to the public world, and not for the sake of my own pursuits, but for the pursuits of ingenuity and culture.”
The piece is unique in that each group is given a chance to shine, he said, which is very exciting for young musicians.
The composition, entitled Youth Orchestras of Lubbock 30th Anniversary Theme, will celebrate YOL’s diverse membership from throughout the region who range in age from 7- to 18- years-old. The students from urban and rural public, private and home schools will join together as all three orchestras collaborate to performance with a guest choir.
“This is the perfect way to celebrate the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock’s 30th anniversary,” Conductor Dr. Laurie Williams said. “It is sure to be an amazing performance that features our best talents and gives the audience a performance that is top-notch while providing the kids a great musical education experience unlike any they have had before.“