Breath & Hammers
1. Straight Ahead Red
2. South of Midnight
3. Blurry Scurry
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
- Bass Drum
- Cowbell (2)
- Floor Tim, medium & large
- Maracas, large & small
- Slit Log Drum
- Snare Drum, small
- Suspended Cymbal, large, small and medium
- Temple Blocks
- Triangle, medium and large
- Wood Block, small, medium & large
None discovered thus far.
Just as no man is an island, neither is any piece of music. There are always traditions, echoes of older works, and ghosts hovering over new works; sometimes their presence is buried and other times it’s quite close to the surface. For Breath & Hammers, the spirit of Thelonious Monk (1917 - 1986) dances discreetly in the background. Although I didn’t use any direct quotes from his music (no Monk tunes were harmed in the composing of Breath & Hammers), the angularity of his melodies were very much in mind as I was composing, especially since 2017 is his centennial year. Monk’s instrument was the piano, and Monk’s sounds lived in a world of winds and percussion, so the choice of piano and wind ensemble for this concerto seemed a natural fit.
Breath & Hammer’s fast-slow-fast three-movement structure is squarely in the tradition of the Western art-music piano concerto, albeit with decidedly non-triadic harmony and an emphasis on rhythm (especially in Blurry Scurry) that reflects our current time. Straight Ahead Red is an amiable walk with an unexpected question at the end. Some of South of Midnight’s scoring is vaguely reminiscent of big band; a very expanded, color-enhanced big band, to be sure. It too veers off into the unexpected: the middle section is a faster tempo, giving a slow-fast-slow structure to the movement. This pattern is directly inspired by the second movement of Bartok’s second piano concerto, although nothing else about the movement resembles Bartok in the least. A short piano cadenza leads directly to Blurry Scurry and its propulsive rhythm leavened with off-beat punches, accents and fills.
The miracle of e-communication allowed for my collaboration with both James [Spinazzola, conductor] and Blaise [Bryski, pianist] as I was composing the piece. I cannot thank them enough for their comments, suggestions and answers to my questions. This piece is dedicated to them, with profound gratitude.
- Program Note by composer
(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) Wind Symphony (James Spinazzola, conductor; Blaise Bryski, piano) – 10 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Eastern Conference, New Haven, Conn.)
- Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) Wind Symphony (James Spinazzola, conductor; Blaise Bryski,piano) – 1 October 2017*Premiere Performance* (time on recording: 0:28-21:15)
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Mark Winges, personal correspondence, January 2018
- Mark Winges website Accessed 1 January 2018