Sheltering Sky

From Wind Repertory Project
Composer Name

John Mackey


General Info

Year: 2012
Duration: c. 4:45
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $120.00   |   Score Only - $20.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe
Bassoon
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Marimba (two players)
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Vibraphone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

The wind band medium has, in the twenty-first century, a host of disparate styles that dominate its texture. At the core of its contemporary development exists a group of composers who dazzle with scintillating and frightening virtuosity. As such, at first listening one might experience John Mackey’s Sheltering Sky as a striking departure. Its serene and simple presentation is a throwback of sorts –- a nostalgic portrait of time suspended.

The work itself has a folksong-like quality –- intended by the composer –- and through this an immediate sense of familiarity emerges. Certainly the repertoire has a long and proud tradition of weaving folksongs into its identity, from the days of Holst and Vaughan Williams to modern treatments by such figures as Donald Grantham and Frank Ticheli. Whereas these composers incorporated extant melodies into their works, however, Mackey takes a play from Percy Grainger. Grainger’s Colonial Song seemingly sets a beautiful folksong melody in an enchanting way (so enchanting, in fact, that he reworked the tune into two other pieces: Australian Up-Country Tune and The Gum-Suckers March). In reality, however, Grainger’s melody was entirely original –- his own concoction to express how he felt about his native Australia. Likewise, although the melodies of Sheltering Sky have a recognizable quality (hints of the contours and colors of Danny Boy and Shenandoah are perceptible), the tunes themselves are original to the work, imparting a sense of hazy distance as though they were from a half-remembered dream.

The work unfolds in a sweeping arch structure, with cascading phrases that elide effortlessly. The introduction presents softly articulated harmonies stacking through a surrounding placidity. From there emerge statements of each of the two folksong-like melodies –- the call as a sighing descent in solo oboe, and its answer as a hopeful rising line in trumpet. Though the composer’s trademark virtuosity is absent, his harmonic language remains. Mackey avoids traditional triadic sonorities almost exclusively, instead choosing more indistinct chords with diatonic extensions (particularly seventh and ninth chords) that facilitate the hazy sonic world that the piece inhabits. Near cadences, chromatic dissonances fill the narrow spaces in these harmonies, creating an even greater pull toward wistful nostalgia. Each new phrase begins over the resolution of the previous one, creating a sense of motion that never completely stops. The melodies themselves unfold and eventually dissipate until at last the serene introductory material returns –- the opening chords finally coming to rest.

- Program Note by Jake Wallace


Sheltering Sky, premiered on April 21, 2012, was jointly commissioned by the directors of the Traughber and Thompson Junior High School Bands in Oswego, Ill.

- Program Note by Technical Sgts. David Balandrin and Ricky Parrell.


Media


State Ratings

  • Florida: FBA Band Grade 4
  • Georgia: GA Band 13-14 Additions GR 4
  • Texas: IV. Complete


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA) Symphonic Band (Sarah Mason, graduate conductor) – 3 April 2024
  • Mineola (Tx.) High School Band (Jim Best, conductor) – 9 February 2024 (2024 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • California State University, Long Beach Symphonic Band (Adam Friedrich, conductor) - 7 December 2023
  • West Valley High School (Yakima, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Kirk Knight, conductor) - 1 November 2023
  • Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro) Symphonic Band (Denny Hawkins, conductor) - 24 October 2023
  • Sacramento (Calif.) State University Concert Band (Matthew Morse, conductor) - 18 October 2023
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ont., Can.) Wind Orchestra (LaToya A. Webb, conductor) - 6 April 2023
  • Hanford (Calif.) High School Symphonic Band (Tori Kuykendall, conductor) - 24 March 2023 (2023 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Metropolitan Winds of Toronto (Ont., Can.) (Kevin Vuong, conductor) – 25 March 2023
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Concert Band (T.J. Anderson, conductor) - 16 February 2023
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Angelina Gomez, conductor) – 6 December 2022
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Concert Band (Brian Drews, conductor) - 5 December 2022
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Maroon Campus Band (Rose Craig Tyler, conductor) - 24 October 2022
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor) – 4 October 2022
  • California State Polytechnic University Humboldt Wind Ensemble (Paul Cummings, conductor) - 29 April 2022
  • Triangle Wind Ensemble (Cary, N.C.) (Evan Feldman, conductor) - 12 December 2021
  • Lebanon Valley College (Annville, Penn.) Symphonic Band (Christopher J Heffner, conductor) - 13 May 2021
  • Winds of the Houston (Tx.) Symphony (Steven Reineke, conductor) - 20 March 2021
  • Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 14 March 2021
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Concert Band 2 (Joel Davidson, conductor) - 24 February 2021
  • McLennan College (Waco TX) Wind Ensemble (Jon Conrad, conductor) - 5 March 2020
  • University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 6 April 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources