Sinfonietta no. 3
"Strange and Mysterious Waters"
for wind ensmble
Commissioned by a consortium of university wind ensembles:
Sinfonietta no. 3 is a work inspired by the incomparable beauty of the Wakulla Springs and River in Florida, some fifty miles from my boyhood home. The subtitle “Strange and Mysterious Waters” is a translation of the Cherokee word “Wakulla.” The river has a wonderfully exotic and ancient quality that cannot be expressed in words. The piece describes a gradual progression from the tranquil dusk, followed by nocturnal sounds both real and imagined, to the final image of dawn light reflecting off the water.
Other influences also played a prominent role in the creation of the sinfonietta. The individual movements utilize Baroque contrapuntal forms which I have always admired for both their internal logic and rambling, almost improvisatory structures. The movement subtitles are drawn from the works of Irish poet George William Russell (better known by his pseudonym AE). His poems frequently meditated upon his relationship with the natural world and the special qualities of light at dusk, midnight, and dawn.
The first movement is a portrait of twilight on the river, which Russell described as “the radiant gateways of the day.” The piece starts from a central pitch (D) and gradually expands outward to a climax of brass and metallic percussion. The movement subsides with a return to the opening pitch. The Toccata is a brash and energetic “touch piece” for the full ensemble that depicts the denizens of the night. Wakulla is filled with hundreds of animal species, many of which are only active nocturnally. Further, the springs hosted several “Tarzan” films and the original “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” AE provides an excellent quote in his poem Brotherhood: “Out of the teeming dark what dusky creatures flit!” Musically, this movement uses a “kitchen sink” approach that includes Eastern European modernism, post-minimalism, 70’s funk, fusion, and heavy metal. The final movement presents the first light of morning in the cathedral-like space of centuries-old cypress trees surrounding the pristine waters. A simple diatonic chaconne tune that incorporates elements of the previous movements is interspersed with exotic artificial scales played by solo winds. The simple melody then builds towards a climax that is hopefully both powerful and contemplative. Russell’s Dawn states: “Within its crystal depths the stars grow dim; Fire on the altar of the hills at last / Burns on the shadowy rim.”
Movement I: Radiant Gateways (can be performed separately)
Cost: $150 (Bound 11x17 score, complete parts in PDF format on data CD)
Unlimited performance rights
Contact James.David@colostate.edu for invoicing (all forms of payment accepted)