From Wind Repertory Project
Augusta Read Thomas

Augusta Read Thomas (arr. Cliff Colnot)

Subtitle: Moon Chariot Rituals

General Info

Year: 2015 / 2017
Duration: c. 16:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: String/percussion octet
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


Full Score
C Piccolo
Alto Flute
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Bongos (2)
  • Claves (3)
  • Conga (2)
  • Crotales (2 octaves)
  • Finger Cymbals, suspended (3: small, medium and large)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba (5 octave)
  • Suspended Cymbal (medium)
  • Temple Blocks (4)
  • Tom-toms (4)
  • Triangles (3: small, medium and very large)
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Blocks (3: small, medium and very large)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In Greek mythology, Selene, goddess of the moon, drives her moon chariot across the heavens. She is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister of the sun-god Helios, and Eos, goddess of the dawn.

In this version of Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals), an ensemble of nine woodwind instruments is joined by a percussion quartet. The combination of these two quite different instrumental families results in one of the most strikingly distinctive sound worlds to be encountered in Thomas’s output. For one thing, the two instrumental families are seldom used separately, and solo breaks from either the woodwinds or percussion, while present, are conspicuous by their rarity. Instead, Thomas prefers to use the players as a compact instrumental unit whose colors, texture, and complexion changes constantly as the music gambols along.

This is one of Thomas’s most concentrated essays in forward motion, with the pace almost always at a run. There are a few pockets of introspection, but they are too brief to ever dispel the sense of vast spaces covered in the blink of an eye as Selene, the lunar goddess of Greek mythology, would do when driving her moon chariot across the firmaments. With its powerfully driven rhythmic through-line, one cannot be unaware of the work’s incipiently balletic connotations, a notion that was confirmed in conversation with Thomas herself: composing for her is as physical an action as it is for the performer to play the music in question, and in the wild hockets into which the music crystallizes in its concluding stages, the feeling that the journey is about to reach a point of arrival is as exhilarating as it is inescapable. Typically for Thomas, though, when the music does attain its goal, it is not in the shape of some grand apotheosis, but in a single, sharp, terse flash.

The work was co-commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center in honor of its 75th Anniversary Season, with generous support from Deborah and Philip Edmundson; by Miller Theatre at Columbia University; and by Third Coast Percussion, with the generous support of Sidney K. Robinson.

- Program Note by Paul Pellay for the University of Michigan Symphony Band Chamber Winds concert program, 12 February 2021

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band Chamber Winds (Michael Haithcock, conductor) - 18 April 2021
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa.) Percussion Ensemble (Phillip O'Banion, conductor) – 4 November 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer