In February of 2018, I set out to write a "little" symphony. After coming off of the massive project that was Symphony 2 "The Forest of Dreams" my creative output was exhausted. I needed a small palate cleanser. Boy was I mistaken....
What evolved over the next year turned out to be the largest composition I've ever undertaken, surpassing Symphony two not only in length but also in size and complexity. Simply put - Symphony 3 now stands as the largest single work ever written for a wind band.
There are multiple layers to the piece. It can be listened to as both a programmatic symphony as well as a psychological progression from dark to light.
In 2015, I had quit my job teaching having had enough of dealing with adolescent angst and hormones (and yet, somehow I didn't learn my lesson and went back a year later...). My escape from the real world is to go birding. I had devised a giant road trip that would take me throughout the American West and allow me to view nature as I had never viewed it before. I told myself that I needed this trip in order to "find myself." I would start in South Texas then work to West Texas and move in a giant loop until I reached home a month later. Sadly, the trip was cut short after about a week due to the death of my grandmother. At the time, I thought the trip to be a failure as I didn't complete what I set out to accomplish and I never "found myself."
But I did find myself. It just took three years of contemplation to realize what I saw.
I. The Storm at Night
As I was driving to Big Bend National Park, I drove through a torrential storm that covered the Chihuahuan Desert. As I drove through ever-growing hills, I would see shafts of golden sun breaking through the storm the shone a gilded light upon the beautiful, yet desolate landscape.
2. Into the Mountains
The Chisos Mountains lie at the center of Big Bend like a giant monolith. They contain the second highest peak in Texas and hold a natural beauty found nowhere else in the country. The climb into the mountains is a long and winding one with sharp twists and turns.
3. The Darkness of Night
True darkness is rare in our overly illuminated world. In the mountains far away from the nearest civilization, one can begin to appreciate how dark the world can really be.
4. The Glory of the Unfettered Night Sky
When the illumination of humankind is gone, the light of the natural world shines the brighter. As the skies cleared, a true wonder appears as the night sky in all its glory is revealed.
5. The Peace of Solitude
Solitude can be both comforting to the troubled mind and a source of extreme loneliness. That which is both beautiful and agonizing can create emotions.
6. Dreams Under the Stars
As we fade into sleep, visions of beauty and light appear.
7. The Storm at Night
Peace and sleep are broken as the storm returns, now more thunderous and terrifying than before. The altitude of the mountains brings us closer to the violent heavens.
8. The Night Birds Call
As the storm dies out, the night birds begin their chorus. They sing and call to one another in the darkness of the mountains.
9. The Ascent in the Dark
Hours before dawn, we being to climb the mountain. It is a long and arduous climb with heavy footsteps across the wet earth.
10. The Dawn Chorus
Near the top of the climb, the first rays of the sun slowly appear and the first birds of the morning begin to sing. We hear their songs and join in.
11. Dawn in the Mists of the Lost World
At the top of the mountain, the darkness is slowly abating and revealing to use a world shrouded in the final mists and clouds of the night's storm. We are standing in a world of mystery and beauty - alone.
Finally, the sun is clear of the horizon and the mountains are bathed in golden light. We stand at the top of the world and bask in the warmth as we stare out across the desert below us.
- C Piccolo
- C Flute
- C Flute and E♭ Flute
- C Flute and B♭ Flute
- C Flute and Tenor Flute
- Alto Flute, C Piccolo, and Bass Flute (opt.)
- 3 Oboes (3 = E♭ or F Sopranino Oboe)
- Oboe d'Amore
- Alto Oboe
- Baritone Oboe (Lupophone)
- 2 C Clarinets (=2 E♭ Clarinets, opt. A♭ Piccolo Clarinet)
- 4 B♭ Clarinets (doubled if possible)
- 2 A Clarinets
- 2 G Clarinets d'Amore
- 2 E♭ Tenor Clarinets (=2 B♭ Bass Clarinets)
- 2 B♭ Bass Clarinets (opt. A Bass Clarinet)
- E♭ Great Bass Clarinet
- B♭ Contrabass Clarinet
- B♭ Subcontrabass Clarinet (opt.)
- B♭ Soprano Saxophone
- E♭ Alto Saxophone and E♭ Sopranino Saxophone
- E♭ Alto Saxophone and F Alto Saxophone
- C Tenor Saxophone and Bass Saxophone
- B♭ Tenor Saxophone and B♭ Soprano Saxophone
- E♭ Baritone Saxophone, E♭ Contrabass Saxophone, and E♭ Alto Saxophone
- E♭ Baritone Saxophone and C Soprano Saxophone
- B♭ Bass Saxophone and E♭ Alto Saxophone
- 3 Bassoons (3 = Subcontrabassoon)
- Greatbassoon (= Bassoon 4)
- E♭ Baritone Sarrusophone
- B♭ Bass Sarrusophone
- 2 E♭ Contrabass Sarrusophones
4 F Horns
2 B♭ Tenor Wagner Tuben (= F Horns 5 & 6)
2 F Bass Wagner Tuben (= F Horns 7 & 8)
3 Tenor Trombones
G Bass Trombone
3 B♭ Flügelhorns (opt. 3 = G Flügelhorn)
F Alto Flügelhorn
2 Tenor Tubas
Bass Tuba (doubled if possible)
Contrabass Tuba (doubled if possible)
Subcontrabass Tuba (opt.)
Handbell Choir (5-octaves)
2-4 Mandolins (opt. Mandola)
Group 1 (rear)
6 C Trumpets
Group 2 (left)
B♭ Piccolo Trumpet
3 B♭ Trumpets
Group 3 (right)
B♭ Piccolo Trumpet
3 B♭ Trumpets
Group 4 (balcony)
2 E♭ (or F) Alto Trumpets
Symphony 3 "Chisos Dawn"
The score and parts are currently in revision for a virtual performance. If you are interested in a live performance, please reach out to me to make arrangements.
Parts will be available for purchase at $800 for a full set.