Concerto for Wind Ensemble (Bryant)
1. Mvt. I - 7:12
2. Mvt. II - 6:32
3. Mvt. III - 5:41
4. Mvt. IV - 9:27
5. Mvt. V - 4:35
Flute I-II-III-IV-V (III-V are antiphonal, I and II double piccolo, IV doubles piccolo and alto flute)
Bassoon I-II (II doubles Contrabassoon)
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI (IV-VI are antiphonal, III doubles Eb Soprano Clarinet)
Bb Bass Clarinet (doubles Bb Contrabass Clarinet)
Alto Saxophone I-II (I doubles Soprano Saxophone)
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI (IV-VI are antiphonal, I, II, and V double Piccolo Trumpets)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV (III and IV are antiphonal)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:
- Bass Drum
- Bell Plates (Bb,A, must sound in notated octave)
- Cocktail Shaker
- Crotales (2 sets)
- Crystal Glasses / Champagne Flutes (2)
- Pitched Gong (C, must sound in notated octave)
- Ribbon Crasher
- Shaker attached to drumstick
- Snare Drum
- Spash Cymbals (2)
- Suspended Cymbals (3)
- Tambourine (mounted)
- Tam-tam (2)
- Toms (3)
- Xylophone (2)
None discovered thus far.
Commissioned by the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America, Cmdr. Donald Schofield, conductor.
My Concerto for Wind Ensemble came into existence in two stages, separated by three years. The first movement came about in 2006, when Commander Donald Schofield (then director of the USAF Band of Mid-America) requested a new work that would showcase the band’s considerable skill and viscerally demonstrate their commitment to excellence as representatives of the United States Air Force. From the outset, I decided against an outright depiction of flight, instead opting to create a work that requires, and celebrates, virtuosity. Initial discussions with Cdr. Schofield centered on a concerto grosso concept, and from this, the idea evolved into one of surrounding the audience with three groups of players, as if the concertino group had expanded to encompass the audience. These three antiphonal groups, along with the onstage ensemble, form the shape of a diamond, which, not coincidentally, is a core formation for the USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron. As a further analog, I’ve placed Trumpet 5 and Clarinet 5 in the back of the hall, serving as an ‘inversion’ of the ensemble onstage, which mirrors the role of the No. 5 pilot who spends the majority of the show flying inverted. The musical material consists of a five-note ascending scale-wise motive and a repeated chord progression (first introduced in the vibraphone about 2:30 into the work). The rhythm of this chord progression (inspired by a fairly popular band these days) informs the rhythmic makeup of the remainder of the movement.
As the piece took shape, I realized I wanted to write much more than the “five to seven minutes” specified in the original commission, so I intentionally left the end of the work “open,” knowing I would someday expand it when the opportunity presented itself. That chance came in 2009, thanks to Jerry Junkin: shortly after his fantastic 2009 performance of Ecstatic Waters at the College Band Directors National Association conference in Austin, we discussed my desire to write more movements, and he graciously agreed to lead a consortium to commission the project.
In expanding the work, I planned to reuse the same few musical elements across all five movements. “Economy of materials” is a guiding principle of my approach to composing, and I set out to tie this work together as tightly as possible. The original ascending five-note motive from movement I returns often (in fact, the number 5 insinuates itself into both the melodic and rhythmic fabric of the entire work).
In Movement II, this scalar passage is stretched vertically, so that its total interval now covers a minor seventh instead of a perfect fifth. The F# Phrygian harmony eventually resolves upward to G major, acting as five-minute expansion of the F#-G trills introduced in the clarinets at the beginning of Movement I. The second movement exploits the antiphonal instruments for formal purposes, as the music gradually moves from the stage to the surrounding instruments. Extended flute solos permeate the movement.
Movement III is bright, rhythmically incessant, and veers toward jazz in a manner that surprised me as it unfolded. The accompaniment patterns revisit the vibraphone rhythm from movement I, which various scalar threads swirl around the ensemble. The melodic material for this movement comes from a trumpet solo my father played years ago, and which I transcribed in 2006, while composing the first movement. I knew from the beginning that this would end up in the work, though my original plan was to set it in toto in the fourth movement. Instead, it wound up in the much brighter third movement, and led the music into a completely unexpected direction.
Movement IV’s weighty character, then, comes from that initial plan to set my father’s solo. However, I realized it wasn’t going to sound as I had anticipated – I had envisioned something similar to Ives’ The Unanswered Question, but it simply wasn’t working. Once I let go of the solo and focused on the surrounding sonic landscape, the music formed quickly, recalling various fragments from earlier in the piece. The movement also pays homage to Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra (elements of which appear in other movements), and Corigliano’s score to the film Altered States. Both of these have been early, powerful, lasting influences on my compositional choices.
Movement V returns to the opening motive of the entire work, this time with a simmering vitality that burns inexorably to a no-holds-barred climax. Where the first four movements of the work only occasionally coalesce into tutti ensemble passages, here, the entire band is finally unleashed.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Jerry Junkin and the consortium members for allowing me the opportunity to create this work – all 54,210 notes of it.
- Program Note by composer
- Audio CD: Auroral Skies USAF Band of Mid-America (Major Donald E. Schofield, conductor)
- Audio CD: United States Air Force Band (Col. Larry H. Lang, conductor) - 19 December 2012 (2012 Midwest Clinic
Upcoming and recent performances of all works by Steven Bryant are listed here.
(To submit performances of works by Steven Bryant, Jim Bonney, Jonathan Newman, or Eric Whitacre, please use this page.)
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Alchemy in Silent Spaces (2001)
- all stars are love (2014)
- Anthem (Bryant) (2011)
- The Automatic Earth (2019)
- Axis Mundi
- Chester Leaps In (see Parody Suite)
- Coil (2014)
- Concerto for Wind Ensemble (2010)
- Concerto for Alto Saxophone (2014)
- Concerto for Cello and Orchestral Winds
- Concerto for Trombone 2016
- Concerto for Piano and Orchestral Winds & Percussion (2012)
- Dusk (2004)
- Ecstatic Fanfare (2012)
- Ecstatic Waters (2008)
- First Light
- Impercynations (see Parody Suite)
- Idyll (2013)
- In This Broad Earth (2015)
- Interruption Overture (1998)
- Irrational Joy (2017)
- Machine Awakes, The (2012)
- The Marbled Midnight Mile (1999)
- MetaMarch (see Parody Suite)
- A Million Suns at Midnight
- Miniature Suite (2017)
- Nothing Gold Can Stay (2016)
- Parody Suite
- Pendulum (2018)
- Radiant Joy
- Solace (2012)
- Stampede (2003)
- Suite Dreams (see Parody Suite)
- Whirlwind (2013)
- Wings That Work (2003)
- Bryant, S. (2010). Concerto for Wind Ensemble [score]. Gorilla Salad: [Durham, N.C.]
- Concerto for Wind Ensemble
- Cross, Travis J. "Concerto for Wind Ensemble." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 884-863. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Steven Bryant website