Symphony I (Turner)

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Jess Langston Turner

Jess Langston Turner

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Subtitle: If I Am to Leave….: For large wind ensemble with solo soprano and tenor voices

This work is also referred as If I Am to Leave: A Short Symphony.

General Info

Year: 2019
Duration: c. 25:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Jess Turner
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) – $400.00   |   Score Only (digital) - $50.00


1. Prelude: "If I Am to Leave…" – 5:00
2. Thanks – Ballade – 4:00
3. Leaving – Pastorale – 4:30
4. The Endless Sarabande – 6:00
5. Fanfares – The Sun of the Rich World – 6:00 (movement optional)


  • Full Score
  • C Piccolo
  • Flute I-II
  • Oboe I-II
  • Bassoon I-II
  • E-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
  • B-flat Soprano Saxophone
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV (I doubling B-flat Flugelhorn)
  • Horn in F I-II-III-IV
  • Trombone I-II-III
  • Bass Trombone
  • Euphonium I-II
  • Tuba I-II
  • String Bass
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Timpani
  • Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
*Bass Drum
*Bell Tree
*China Cymbal (small)
*Finger Cymbals
*Glockenspiel (2)
*Mark Tree
*Sizzle Cymbal (small)
*Suspended Cymbal (2: small and medium)
*Tibetian Prayer Bowls
*Triangle (2: small and medium)
*Tubular Bells

Solo Soprano Voice
Solo Tenor Voice


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This piece was commissioned in memory of Mike Moss, a wonderful music educator and conductor who was the music program director at Drexel University for many years. Mike passed away suddenly in 2012 at age 60. The texts of this piece are selected from a poem, If I Am to Leave that was found among Mike’s papers shortly after his death.

Throughout the music, there are allusions to several composers and songwriters that Mike mentions specifically in another unused section of text from the poem: Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Johannes Brahms. Rather than make overt references to the music of these composers, I chose to weave the melodies out of small motives contained in several of these composers’ works – Kern’s All the Things You Are, Rodgers’ My Romance and My Funny Valentine, and Brahms’ Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2. In addition, the central harmonic gesture of the entire piece is drawn from a specific moment in Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 (the famous C-minor to B-major modulation at the end of the exposition of mvt. 1), in fact almost the entire first movement of If I Am to Leave is built from transposed versions of this single chord progression.

Another composer that Mike mentions specifically in his poem is J. S. Bach. Again, rather than quote or emulate Bach stylistically, I have used the Brahms harmonic progression above to create the famous B-A-C-H motive (transposed), which also appears in several other key places throughout the piece. Throughout the piece, there are several key melodic motives that keep appearing. These motives are tied to specific ideas that appear in the text. Whenever these motives appear in the music, they are to evoke these specific ideas to which they are tied in the text; for the first excerpt, the sobering recognition that we will each leave this life one day, for the second excerpt, either fond or bittersweet recollection, and for the third excerpt, struggle against the finality of death. These motives are continually woven together to create a tapestry of ever-shifting emotions that range from anger to sad nostalgia to joy to despair and finally to resignation and comfort.

- Program Note by composer


  • ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize, 2023, honorable mention


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Maryland (College Park) Wind Orchestra (Glenn Adsit, conductor; Kat Norman, soprano; Kevin Webb, tenor) - 11 November 2023
  • The Hartt Wind Ensemble (West Hartford, Conn.) (Glen Adsit, conductor; Jennifer McCann, Mezzo Soprano; Jack Pott, Tenor) - 30 April 2022
  • The Hartt Wind Ensemble (West Hartford, Conn.) (James Jackson, conductor) – 27 March 2020 (Scheduled, but concert canceled.)

Works for Winds by This Composer