Concerto for Orchestra

3-3-3-3 4-3-3-1 Timp/3 Perc/Harp/Strings
(Level: Advanced)

You can't really write a Concerto for Orchestra without bearing in mind the original, Bartók's showpiece that encapsulated so much of his own identity as a person and as an artist. I knew, if I was going to write something like this, that it needed to live in that sort of space; to reflect my own identity. So I settled on a few ideas, and hoped that I could find a way to blend modern concert music with a healthy sprinkling of jazz and even a touch of rock (after all, I do play

saxophone). And, much in the same way as Bartók's masterpiece, I wanted my own Concerto for Orchestra to be interesting but also riotous and fun to listen to.


Beyond the basic feel that I wanted Concerto for Orchestra to have, there was also the consideration of its overall structure. I've always been fascinated with the structure of music; be that form, harmony, melody, or motive. My teachers at university had me play at least one Baroque piece on every recital; this always seemed to work out to be transcriptions of J.S. Bach, and Bach is well known for cyclical composition--small ideas, harmonies, or melodies that keep popping up no matter how complex and lengthy a piece gets. I love this idea: that you take a tiny motive or collection of pitches and build something enormous from it.


The entirety of Concerto for Orchestra can be broken down to the initial statement from the Eb Clarinet. In some way, this idea informs every movement that follows, be that melodically, harmonically, or structurally. Sets of five are very important throughout--this goes from the macro level (there are, after all, five movements) all the way down to little selections of five notes layered and hidden everywhere. The other melodic device I used a lot is at the beginning of the third movement in the trombones and tuba (this one takes prominence for the latter half of the piece; however, both the initial statement and this one are important throughout). These, combined with blues scales and tritone substitution, form the basis for almost all of the material


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