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Robert Spittal

Robert Spittal

General Info

Duration: c. 7:15
Difficulty: V+ (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Robert Spittal
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $175.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crickets (or clicking sounds)
  • Crotales
  • Djembe (low, or Conga)
  • Granite Blocks (3: treble)
  • Marimba
  • Police Whistle
  • Rainstick
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-toms (4)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip
  • Wind Chimes (metal/mark tree)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The importance of the times in which this piece was written cannot be overstated. The major events shaping our world in the years 2020 and 2021 -- worldwide pandemic, racial tension and violence, unsustainable political and social vitriol and aggression, wars around the world, and catastrophic environmental events -- shaped the thoughts of the students and myself as we created this composition.

I wanted to compose a work that reflects the complexity and range of the students’ and my thoughts and feelings during this time, from the darkest hours of isolation and ennui, to the unique moments of shared community and joy. But if the students and I intend this piece to bring any essential meaning to the listener, it is that peace, hope, and positive understanding will ARISE when we decide to face our challenges with resilience, and sustain our will, passion, and effort to overcome them.

The Process

[This work was created in collaboration with the Quabbin High School, Barr, Mass., Symphonic Winds, Peter Lewis, conductor.] Students composed essays and notes about their experiences and feelings in fall, 2020, at the peak of the pandemic. Students collaborated on the lyrics of a song with Mark Schwaller of Mean Green Music Machine entitled We Can Do This. (These four words can be “heard” in Arise as the four strongly declared chords just before the coda.) The idea of overcoming obstacles with sustained hope and determination is central to the narrative of this work.

From the essays and lyrics, I selected certain quotes or ideas that were consistently mentioned by students, and listed those that had potential to be expressed in this composition. In groups, students were assigned some of the quotes from the list and asked how they might be expressed musically. I also asked them more open questions such as, “What do you hope future young musicians who play this piece will experience?” to gain a sense of what they hoped for from my work. After ruminating on their ideas and meeting with them to discuss the piece, I developed musical ideas and composed. When the work was complete, I sent the ensemble parts and asked them to consider a title. Arise was suggested by the students, which I thought was an excellent characterization of the piece.

The Piece

While the piece doesn’t have a specific program, it does follow a kind of narrative arc, as shown below. Understanding the arc is fundamental to achieving a satisfying performance.

Introduction: Fanfare, youthful energy, optimism.

A section: A dark, ominous, threatening, instability comes on suddenly, with two strong pulses representing a “heartbeat” motif heard throughout the piece in a variety of presentations; the dark music is contrasted just as suddenly with an introspective lullaby -- a beautiful song of caring, intimacy and innocence, but also haunted by an ever-present anxiety and moments of listless ennui. This theme returns later in a variety of forms and characters.

B section: Minimalist, polyrhythmic, aleatoric. Anxiety, hyperbole, fear, anger, tension, aggression, conflict, violence builds to chaotic climax.

C section: “Lullaby” motive returns, aleatoric bird calls signal awakening and light, a way forward.

D section: Tone-filled consonant brass signal introspection and calm.

E section: “Heartbeat” returns, signaling positivity and new energy. Percussion lead us back to the youthful fanfare.

F section: A Dance --A celebratory statement of realization and positivity, signaling the hopeful way forward! “We Can Do This”.

Coda: An affirmation.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Gonzaga University (Spokane, Wash.) (Wind Ensemble) (Robert Spittal, conductor) – 4 December 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer

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