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  • Writer's pictureBret Newton

Flower Moon

Flower Moon is my first band work written specifically for a non-professional group. It was composed for Nathaniel Neugent and the Howard Middle School Band in Mansfield, TX. The work was written specifically with this ensemble in mind playing to the group's strengths.

A Flower Moon is the full moon that occurs in the month of May. In May of 2017, I was returning from a gig where I was playing with my local swing band. It was the night of the Flower Moon. Around midnight, I sat in my living room with its big window facing out to the east, and I watched the full moon as it rose. The day had been cloudy, and the clouds were just beginning to break up. In this setting, I saw moments of light and dark in the same field of view. The beauty of this juxtaposition was calming. Nearly 8 months later, I vividly recalled that scene and set out to evoke that image in the form of a tone poem. I gave myself a challenge - to write an entire band piece in 7 days. In order to push myself to do this, I videoed the whole process and documented it on YouTube. This process gave me an urgency that I needed to complete the process. I was actually able to complete the whole work in 6 days with the process! The result is a piece I'm quite proud of and one I hope can be enjoyed by bands everywhere.

Flower Moon is a largely lyrical work that is meant to highlight nearly every instrument within the band. It was written when the mindset of someone who remembers junior high and high school music where many of the parts, especially those for so-called "color instruments" were boring and unimportant. Here, every member of the band gets to shine.

Throughout most of the piece, the modality shifts, measure by measure, from major to minor to reflect both the lightness and darkness of the Flower Moon i vividly recall. The harmonies, which are unexpected for students, will keep them interested in the music. One aspect of the piece that is highly unusual for a work for a school ensemble is that there is not a single moment where the whole ensemble plays together. Rather, it focus more on smaller, chamber settings and unusual combinations of instruments.


4 C Flutes

2 Oboes

Alto Oboe*

4 B-flat Clarinet

E-flat Tenor Clarinet*

2 B-flat Bass Clarinets

B-flat Contrabass Clarinet

B-flat Soprano Saxophone

2 E-flat Alto Saxophones

B-flat Tenor Saxophone

E-flat Baritone Saxophone

2 Bassoons

4 F Horns

4 B-flat Trumpets

2 Tenor Trombones

Bass Trombone

2 Tenor Tubas

2 Contrabass Tubas





Percussion 1 (Triangle, Sleighbells)

Percussion 2 (Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum, Cymbals)

Percussion 3 (Tam-Tam)

*I use these terms for consistency and accuracy in my writing. They correspond to the traditional names of English Horn and Alto Clarinet.

Purchase the Score and Parts

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