Shades of Red - Full Digital Set
This project came to life starting from a conversation between Selena and I in mid-July of 2018, at a small sushi restaurant in Iowa City, over a bottle or two of sake. During the conversation, she and I were discussing our work with our respective drum corps, and as we got into it, one of our points of conversation settled on the mellophone. In the marching idiom, the mellophone is one of the most iconic sounds, part of the foundation of what separates marching band from sit-down band. The challenge is, for such a pivotal instrument, the mellophone is only ever a “secondary” instrument - it just doesn’t have a home in the concert (and thereby, “serious”) world. This is where she mused aloud, with a knowing glance to her composer friend, “if only there were a concerto for mellophone.”
This brings us to the present piece of music.
The title for the work actually came out of previous sketches for material that ended up scrapped and replaced with what came to be in the end, but through conversations, the title still stuck.
There’s no hard and fast “program” for the music - just very loose associations.
The first movement grew out of the warm, rich horn calls from the beginning of Jean Sibelius’s 5th Symphony. With the work highlighting the mellophone, I felt it was only appropriate to begin the work with a statement of the mellophone’s lineage in the instrument storage room, and the typical path mellophone players take to get to that horn. Thus, the beginning of the concerto begins with a simple horn call motive, shared between the soloist and the horn section.
The third movement draws some inspiration from Philip Glass’s “Heroes” Symphony. Both Selena and I have a love for minimalism and post-minimalism, and after a warm afternoon listening to the Glass Symphony with the windows down, I decided to take a crack at the movement by building it on a post-minimal foundation. The movement really unfolded quickly and took its current shape as a Rondo.
Throughout the work, there’s a quasi-serial treatment of a cell that might be described as (0257) - or simply, Bb-C-Eb-F. This cell becomes the basis for both melodic, harmonic, and formal material.