Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) wrote nine symphonies over thirty years. His Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163 was written in 1889. The first movement, "Allegro con brio", opens with a theme in G minor, which is quickly interrupted by the flute and various rhythmic motifs played by other instruments. The modality of this movement shifts several times between minor and major, before an energetic coda end this movement. The original orchestration is 2 flutes (2nd flute also plays the piccolo part), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in F, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass. This arrangement uses piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, 3 clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 trumpets in Bb, 4 horns in F, 3 trombones, euphonium, tuba, timpani, bells, and marimba.
Ascending to the Skies Above! was originally written as a finale for the Patchogue-Medford School District's Summer Music Program. Traditionally, the middle school band and orchestra would combine for the last selection of their summer concert. In years past, parts would be modified and adapted for the combined instrumentation.
Ascending to the Skies Above! is meant to take the listener on a journey as they soar through the clouds and into the stars. This exhilarating work for young musicians will certainly entertain both performers and audience members alike!
Be Thou My Vision is a traditional Irish hymn dating back from the 6th century. Its beautiful melody has been transcribed and arranged for many different settings over the years. This particular arrangement can be used to reinforce the concepts of balance blending and phrasing. The dynamic shapes used in this piece provide an ebb and flow while the many suspensions create tension and release. The "maestoso" section should be half the original tempo creating a bold and dramatic statement.
Destiny Awaits is a thrilling piece for elementary bands. With many opportunities for tension and release, your ensemble will sound mature beyond their years. Opening with a majestic section, the suspense builds as the piece catapults forward into an energetic groove. There are two percussion parts written to provide a challenge for more advanced students. This piece provides an opportunity to showcase each section of the band. All parts will have the melody at some point in the piece!
Each Day Anew was written while I was in the process of leaving one band position for another in a different school district. I wanted to tell a story about being fearful of change, and as reluctant as we all may be to change, that having faith in yourself and trusting your heart, great things will happen if you let them. We all experience this feeling at some point in our lives. I hope that you can hear your situation in this music and find peace with it.
"Never forget where you've been.
Never lose sight of where you're going.
And never take for granted the people who traveled the journey with you." ~Susan Gale
Eagle’s First Flight is a composition dedicated to the memory of two people very close to my heart.
When we think of people passing away, the image of angels ascending into to heaven often comes to mind. Both Professor Sugar and my grandfather were fighters- both in the armed forces and in life. I see them more as eagles on their maiden voyage towards the distant sun. This piece uses their first and last names to create the opening motif, followed by a chorale that builds momentum as they fly away. It concludes with each section expressing “rest in peace” before their motifs are played one last time.
Freedom was commissioned by the Smithtown Community Band (Smithtown, N.Y.) for their 2018 Summer Concert Series. The director, Mr. William T. Link, wanted something that could be considered "film music" to fit with their season-long theme. As I was writing this, I thought about our troops and tried to imagine their emotions as they finally travel home to their families. The title Freedom can suggest many possible scenarios- the end of a term of duty, the end of wearing combat gear, the end of living half of a world away from family- even the end of a war itself. That is for the listener to decide.
The Shark Shuffle was written for my 4th Grade Band at the time. The title is based on their school district's team name, the Sharks. This beginner band piece only uses the first five notes of the concert Bb major scale. It also only uses whole notes half notes and quarter notes for rhythms. This piece can be played with a variety of instruments allowing ensembles with limited instrumentation to enjoy it as well!
A Smithtown Celebration was commissioned by the Smithtown Community Band (Smithtown, NY) in celebration of the town's 350th anniversary. This piece opens with a heroic fanfare, which then transitions into an exciting ride through the town. There is a percussion part written for anvil or brake drum to symbolize the famous bull that, according to legend, the founder Richard Smythe rode to enforce the borders. In the middle section of this work, a solo flute and English horn (cued in the alto saxophone) help to recreate the splendor of the many parks and preserves in the area. The final section includes an exciting recapitulation where the themes from the first section are layered.
A Symphonic Etude No 1: "An October Stroll" was written as a wedding gift for my wife, Cheryl. On October 8, 2011, we went to an arboretum on Long Island during Cheryl's favorite season. While we were walking around the grounds, a butterfly kept following us- a theme depicted in the upper woodwinds. After strolling through most of the park, I led her to our favorite spot; a small island, only accessible by a pedestrian bridge.
With my heart racing a mile a minute, I got down on one knee and proposed to her. It was as if fireworks were shooting off! As we walked back to the car, that same butterfly joined us once more.
When writing this piece, I wanted to capture as many of my emotions as possible through music. At first, you can hear the warmth of the sun, followed by a conversation from the brass and woodwind (symbolizing my heart and my mind). As we approach the island, you can feel the anticipation and hear the butterfly. All of a sudden, the entire ensemble plays one measure together (me down on one knee), answered by the growing suspense of several percussion instruments rolling. When she "says yes", the upper woodwinds flourish in a whirlwind. Wedding bells can be heard in the distance from the chimes, as the clarinets take over the "butterfly" theme. Finally, the brass enter with a majestic fanfare version of the original theme.
This piece was premiered by the Smithtown Community Band on July 7, 2014. I had the privilege of conducting the first public performance with Cheryl playing co-principal flute.
Who's at the Door was commissioned by the Smithtown Community Band (Smithtown, N.Y.) for their 2018 Summer Concert Series. The director, Mr. William T. Link, had asked me to do something I have never attempted before in composition - film scoring. His idea was to supply me with a short video (made by himself) and then I was asked to create several "moods" that could possibly go with the clip. Each one is very unique and completely changes the emotion of the viewer/listener.
We start out with the first movement, "Hope." This serene sounding movement builds with anticipation as the clip comes to an end. A pastorale-like chorale measures 1 - 7 should be played very legato. At measure 8, the rhythmic energy picks up; this should be played lightly as indicated.
Movement II: "Zainy" is a fun circus-like movement that utilizes the glissando effect on the trombone and timpani. An energetic and exciting movement, this mood can be a technical challenge. Strive for clear and accurate articulations throughout this movement.
Movement III: "Fear" is an eerie sounding motif. The stranger at the door takes on a whole new role in this movement. Accented notes should be emphasized, but not shortened in length.
Movement IV: "Tranquility" is a light-hearted and playful melody that frolics about during the scene. Be careful not to have too much weight on the downbeats, as that will slow the tempo down!
In the end, we never truly establish WHO is at the door... Mr. Link and I wanted to leave that up to the audience.