Symphony No. 2 - The Road Is Life for wind symphony 2024-25 Consortium Commission
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life” - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Five years after completing my first symphony, I am excited to announce my next large-scale work for advanced wind symphony. Inspired by the Beat Generation writers, this new four-movement composition will explore the music, landscape, and culture of post-WWII America that also fueled the works of these seminal authors. A more compact work than Symphony No. 1, this new piece represents a coast-to-coast journey of the mind that takes full advantage of the color and virtuosity of the modern symphonic wind ensemble.
Why the Beats? Why Now?
For me, the Beat Generation writers represent a fascinating moment in American history that mirrors some of the anxieties felt today. The postwar boom era inspired a new self-awareness in these writers that continues to challenge and confront readers. The Beats saw modern America as beautiful, perplexing, and often frustrating, but still believed the future could be better. I feel their words and ideas can be just as powerful as we head into the second quarter of the 21st century.
Each of the four movements corresponds to an excerpt by one of the Beat writers and an American place associated with each of them. Further, the music of each place is explored alongside the language. I. Junkman's Obbligato (New York City) - This fiery poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti deals with the complex and testy emotions of Greenwich Village in the late 1940's and was distinctly influenced by jazz. Swing and bebop intermingle with mid-century modernism, with stabbing brass and percussion alongside swirling winds. II. Intricate Shreds (New Orleans) - Poet Bob Kaufman often referenced jazz alongside fears of nuclear war and the rise of authoritarianism. Here, a soulful clarinet and saxophone duet recall Sidney Bechet alongside an ominous heartbeat of the second line "big four" rhythm. III. I Saw God in the Sky (Colorado) - Jack Kerouac spent significant time in Colorado with his friend Neal Cassady (the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in On the Road). This movement will use my own language to express the beauty and transcendence of the high desert of the Rockies as described by Kerouac. IV. The Starry Dynamo (San Francisco) - Finally, Alan Ginsberg's immortal Howl was published shortly after his move to California. A psychedelic infernal dance utilizes Afro-Latin rhythms to conclude the work with an emphatic and breathless finale.
Duration: ca. 20 minutes
Instrumentation: large wind symphony including piano, harp, and contrabass
"Extended" wind instrumentation will likely be employed (i.e. English Horn, soprano saxophone, contrabassoon, piccolo trumpet, etc.)
Limited to 20-25 member institutions
Lead Commissioner: Andrew Trachsel, Chair, Division of Conducting and Ensembles, Professor of Wind Studies, University of North Texas College of Music
Co-lead Commissioner: Rebecca Phillips, Director of Bands, Professor of Music, Colorado State University
Estimated Completion Date: September 2024
Performance exclusivity through September 2025
Cost: $1000 per institution (can be split into two equal payments on request)