The Cloths of Heaven
for SATB choir
The Sea of Marmora
Composition Date: 2011/12
Commissioned: by Queen Elizabeth School and Victoria School of the Arts with support from the Victoria School Foundation for the Arts
Premiered: April 26, 2012 in Edmonton, Alberta.
The idea for this commission came from band directors Randy Witte, Jerrold Dubyk (Victoria School of the Arts) and Lindsey Coulter (Queen Elizabeth High School) who were planning a combined concert and wanted the evening to culminate with a new work involving both their bands.
Normally when a High School band commissions me I attend a couple of rehearsals and then compose a work that is tailor made to their strengths. This commission was a little different, and at first hard to warp my head around, because each band had a different balance of sections and thus different strengths. I wanted the piece to honor both schools and for all players to take part. At first a thought about a multi-movement work but then decided on a one-movement work designed in such a way that students of all levels could participate.
The piece begins with a flourish that leads into section one. Here I highlight four soloists from bands, in this case flute, tuba, alto sax and baritone. This section can be very effective if everyone but the first soloist is placed behind the audience. This section also explores some aleatoric, or free textures and you’ll also hear some unusual percussion sounds from instruments invented by the players. Section two is slow and melodic developing a theme I originally wrote in 2011 for the Citadel Theatre’s production of “Three Musketeers”. This leads into the final section, which to me has a Turkish flavor and inspired the title The Sea of Marmora. The Sea of Marmora(or Marmara) is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean. This section begins with clapping that is followed by a melody grouped to feel like 3+3+2. The section also includes short improvised solos from the percussion section. These solos should be high energy and flashy consisting of primarily 1/8th and 1/16th notes.
It has been a great pleasure working with both of these talented bands and their directors need to be highly commended for all their hard work organizing this project. I think it’s so important for young players to know that composers are living, breathing artists who work right here in their city, and being a part of bringing a new work to life will be something I hope they will never forget.