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Waltzing Dervish

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Keane Southard

Keane Southard

General Info

Year: 2010
Duration: c. 10:20
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Spindrift Pages
Cost: Score and Parts (PDF) - $150.00   |   Score Only (PDF) - $25.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (B-flat Contrabass Clarinet may be substituted)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet (with low C)
Bb Soprano Sax
Eb Alto Sax
Bb Tenor Sax
Eb Baritone Sax
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Trombone III (Bass)
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Large Bass Drum
  • Xylophone
  • Tambourine
  • Crotales
  • Snare Drum
  • Cabasa
  • Hi-hat
  • Marimba
  • Cuica (Lion's Roar)
  • Sizzle Cymbal
  • High Triangle
  • Large Tam-tam
  • Siren (with crank)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Sandblocks


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Waltzing Dervish for Wind (powered) Ensemble was begun in January 2010 and finished in March of the same year. For the past year or so, I have been struggling to find a way to marry my passion for music with my desire to contribute as much as I can to solving the immense and pressing crises of the world. While I have no doubt that Art plays an important role in the well-being and healing of the world, I feel that the impact of great music, especially “classical” music that has been written since the 20th century, is less immediate. Who am I to make a living spending most of my time in solitude writing music that few people will hear, and even fewer will be impacted positively by, when these huge crises threaten to end human existence in the relatively near future? How can I make a real, immediate, and positive contribution to ensuring a just, stable, and improved future for our world through the medium I am most passionate about?

Around the same time, I started to recognize my affinity for waltzes. The image of people dancing the Viennese Waltz with their constant spinning has always appealed to me as being so carefree and a way to lose oneself. I find the feel and lilt of the waltz to be so wonderfully cathartic (although I confess I'm not a very good dancer at all). I also realized that I've subconsciously associated this dance with spirituality, just as whirling dervishes in the Mevlevi order of Sufi Islam use spinning to lose their ego and attain a closer connection to God. After identifying this connection, I remembered that as a young child I used to love to spin in place as fast as I could to get as dizzy as possible in, of all places, church during the coffee hour after the service. We also had a “Sit 'n Spin” that I remember spinning on all the time, so I had made this connection ever since I was very young. In addition, the waltz is an extremely adaptable dance form, and I enjoy Viennese, Chopin, Circus, Ravel, Brazilian, Russian, Schoenberg, and Strauss waltzes to name a few manifestations. It can, and has been, adopted by many different cultures, yet still maintains the same wonderful feel.

And so I began formulating a plan to write a set of waltzes where the individual dances would be in contrasting styles. The idea stayed in my mind until I drove cross-country with my father in September 2009 while moving from Massachusetts to Colorado to begin graduate school. While driving through Iowa, we passed through two wind farms, and I was struck at how majestic and beautiful these spinning structures were, as well as their obvious symbolism of a new clean-energy future. On our “Great American Road-trip” across my home country that I have become increasingly critical of and disillusioned with, I had found something that I could be proud of. Looking across the vast expanse of the golden plains, I realized the enormous potential for clean renewable wind energy we have in this country. There is no arguing about the clean energy resources we have in our country (one recent study suggests that we have enough potential wind energy in the USA satisfy our current energy needs sixteen times over) and our only obstacle is to move away from fossil fuels and simply put up more wind farms. Yet many people still view these turbines as eyesores and feel that their clean-energy production is not worth having such “hideous” structures in their line of view.

The spinning of the wind turbines immediately connected with my idea to write a set of waltzes. By writing a set of diverse waltzes, I could help to elevate and show the beauty of the wind turbine as a symbol of the Real America. The use of the waltz in different cultural styles and my association with its spiritual side would show that climate change transcends cultural differences and that we all need to address this problem together as one humankind instead of wasting our precious time arguing that one country or religion is more responsible for our problems than others. I hope that this music depicts the majesty, power, beauty, hopefulness, playfulness, ecstasy, and “Joie de vivre” of these spinning structures and people. And what better medium to write this work for than an ensemble that runs on wind power itself?

-Program Note by Keane Southard

Commercial Discography

  • Northeastern State University Wind Ensemble (Norman Wika, conductor)


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


  • Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) Wind Ensemble (Norman Wika, conductor) - 19 November 2015
  • Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) Wind Ensemble (Norman Wika, conductor) - 5 March 2015
  • Members of the Arizona State University Bands (Boon Hua Lien, conductor) - 25 June 2012
  • Encore Wind Ensemble (Jerry Luckhardt, conductor) - 13 May 2011
  • University of Colorado Wind Symphony (Ingrid Larragoity-Martin, conductor) - 11 February 2011

Works for Winds by This Composer