To Thee//From Thee
The commission for this work came about just as the COVID-19 Pandemic began to unfold. As such, in conversations with Dr. Cormac Cannon, he mentioned the possibility/necessity of the ensemble performing with additional space between players, as a matter of health & safety.
Rather than writing a “traditional” work for concert band and hoping that added space would not become a detriment, I instead approached this work with the distance as a key feature.
The piece is organized as six wind quartets, encircling the auditorium. The woodwinds are orchestrated as consorts of like timbres (double reeds, clarinet choir, and saxophone quartet) whereas the brasses are consorts of the same instrument, saving low brass as a tuba/euphonium quartet. There is on percussionist, center stage, at the heart of the ensemble.
As I got into the musical content of the work, I began to feel a touch of sentimentality, as the end of my journey at the University of South Carolina was coming to a close with my impending graduation with my doctorate degree. This gave me the spark to incorporate the alma mater of the University of South Carolina, Forever To Thee. Much of the melodic and musical content is derived from this work, even if rather subtly or with much manipulation. The punchline of this gimmick comes fully into the spotlight in the closing moments of the work, as the homage to the alma mater becomes more evident and less “composed out.”
Throughout the work, these musical themes are passed from one another, around the ensemble. At times this happens between phrases. At times it happens as a conversation.
Once the work started to take shape and I began to think about the spatialization of the work and in turn, the effects of the placement of the performers, all combined with the source material for the music. In a way, it’s also a tribute to and reflection of one of the biggest challenges that we’ve endured since March of 2020: the distance and separation from friends, family, and colleagues. The seeds of the music are derived from Forever To Thee and they are handed around the room, from one player to the next - thus inspiring the title “To Thee // From Thee.”
The work is organized as six quartets of winds, each meant to be placed in extreme corners of the performance space.
As possible, it is preferable for the winds to play standing, to allow for projection across the space.
There is one percussionist who should be placed center-stage.
Back of Stage, to conductor’s left:
Balcony (or back wall), to conductor’s left:
2 Bb Clarinets
Front of Stage, to conductor’s right:
Back of Stage, to conductor’s right:
4 Trumpets in Bb
Balcony (or back wall), to conductor’s right:
4 Horns in F
Front of Stage, to conductor’s left:
Center Stage, facing conductor:
4 concert toms + floor tom (tuned low, if possible)
toms played with marimba mallets
Marimba (4.3 octave is adequate; 4 mallets)
with dark brass mallets and bow