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Suspended

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Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro


Subtitle: Symphony for Winds, Percussion and Pre-Recorded Soundscape


General Info

Year: 2021
Duration: c. 25:20
Difficulty: V+ (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Activist Music
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $700.00   |   Score Only (digital) - $50.00

Movements may be purchased and programmed separately, which see.


Movements (may be played separately)

1. Airborne – 4:45
2. Distanced – 8:55
3. Masked – 4:52
4. Viral – 5:55


Instrumentation

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

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • China Cymbal (large)
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel (2)
  • Marimba
  • Ping-Pong Balls (at least 10)
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbals (2)
  • Tom-tom
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophones (2)

Laptop for audio track playback


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Suspended is an emotional journey, and the catharsis I felt throughout the eight months of writing it helped keep me sane amidst a world of dismal uncertainty. The piece is composed in the tradition of an 18th century Classical symphony: four contrasting movements which serve specific functions and reveal a story. The work begins in absolute rage and chaos, then alternates between moments of grief and bleakness. Grim reality shifts to a macabre, circus-like insanity, and by the end, flickers of genuine hope contrast a pervasive sense of dread, and finally arrive at more optimistic possibilities.

Airborne is the sole movement that's purely acoustic, with no accompaniment audio soundscape. It launches the symphony upward with a tightly motivic sonata form of short repeating passages, in an unrelenting, ever-swirling and disorienting wake-up call. Scream with me.

Distanced is an anthemic, pensive unravelling which begins in anguished melancholy and expands to a raw, poignant wail. Cry with me.

Masked is composed in the exact shape of a Classical minuet and trio waltz, though the music -- a whimsical if somewhat demented masked ball (or, balls, in this case) -- bears little connection to that of Mozart or Haydn. Historically, third movement minuets gave way to the joke-like scherzo, and the trio section tips its hat to some welcome levity. Laugh with me.

Viral ends the work with an energetic, percussively driven seven-part rondo. Light is trying to break through the weight of the times in a frenzied and unresolved push to the final exuberant, insistent notes. Dance with me!

As for the title: our lives have been suspended in countless ways: suspension of daily patterns due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, suspension of social justice and human rights, suspension of the U.S. government as it was held hostage by a vile cult leader and treasonous insurrectionists, and the overall suspension of decency as social media amplifies the most base and ugly instincts among people.

Surely, we can do better.

A piece of music should stand on its own, regardless of any message its composer may attach to it. Audiences don't read about music: they listen to it. But as Victor Hugo wrote, "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent".

The arts have a powerful role in improving society by awakening consciousness through thought-provoking, emotional moments. If a piece of music can spark conversation among listeners, that is a meaningful impact, and a benefit in addition to that of the notes themselves.

- Program Note by composer


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources