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Green Hills of Magic for wind ensemble with narrator (2013)
Fairmont State University Wind Ensemble, Judy Byers narrator
Based on four short stories from the book, Green Hills of Magic, by Ruth Ann Musick. Written
in honor of the West Virginia Susquicentennial celebration.
2. The Invited Guest
3. Look in Your Own Backyard
4. The Monks and the Donkey
Sinfonietta for wind ensemble augmented with string quartet (2011)
University of Missouri- Kansas City Wind Symphony and Graduate String Quartet
A small consort of strings joins a full-sized wind ensemble in Sinfonietta. Although it is not a
concerto, Sinfonietta flips the classical notion of an orchestra on its head. Whereas the
Classical orchestra represented a string ensemble with wind and brass coloration, Sinfonietta
takes a full wind ensemble and adds strings for coloration, blending and melding the string
timbre with the wind ensemble medium.
As this work is not a concerto, balancing the relatively weak quartet of strings with the full wind
ensemble creates challenges, which Sinfonietta addresses in four ways. It uses the strings as
individual and string tutti soloists with sparse accompaniment. It creates windows inside heavy
textures to allow the strings to appear. It doubles the strings with instruments of similar timbre
to add strength in fuller tutti sections. Finally, it uses the disparity of acoustical power between
the strings and full wind ensemble to create dramatic tension.
Sinfonietta relies upon American folk music as a point of departure along with the unique
sound combinations available with this instrumentation. The pentatonic melodies, open
harmonic intervals, and regular phrase structure serve as building blocks for the music. The
sound of the human voice, integral to the singing of folk tunes, is embraced in the
ornamentation of the solo lines. Along with this mimicry is a moment of actual singing by
members of the ensemble. Since wind players, brass players, and vocalists all require a
breath to make their music, Sinfonietta also celebrates the sound of the human breath. Written
into the score are instructions for the whole ensemble to breathe audibly together. This airy,
musical sound is integral to both the sound of the human voice as well as the sound of a pipe
organ, the timbre of which is emulated at the piece's final climax.
5th Avenue Rhapsody for wind ensemble (1998)
Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble
5th Avenue Rhapsody is a programmatic view of a busy city street, taking inspiration from
College Avenue. Using quasi-jazz idioms and street-sound imitations, such as car horns,
CATA buses, and crickets, the ensemble depicts a series of images. The winds and brass
trade-off rhythmically charged motives. The opening depicts a busy street scene with fast,
frenzied inter-cutting of ideas. The second section depicts a deserted street and features
cricket sounds (flutes) and the rumble of CATA busses (trombones). As the piece progresses,
activity returns to the street scene until it once again settles into an eerie calm. A tumultuous
riot builds and grows out-of-control until dispersed by the police. After the street-inhabitants
scramble away, the opening material is returned. A canon builds in the winds and brass
pushing the piece into the final section. Finally, the piece concludes with a return of the winds’
opening theme and a dramatic fortissimo climax.