I.SUN in C
II. RAIN in D Flat
III. WIND in E Flat
A grade 5-6 level work for Wind Ensemble in three movements. Movements may be performed alone.
Daniel J. Van Abs for The Eastern Wind Symphony,
Princeton New Jersey, Todd Nichols, Conductor In Memory of Patricia Page Van Abs
Premiered June 9, 2018 by the Eastern Wind Symphony,
Todd Nichols Conducting, Princeton University, New Jersey.
Premiered July, 2018, The Musashino Academia,
Ray E. Cramer Conducting, Tokyo, Japan.
Performance October 23, 2018 by the University of North Texas Symphonic Band,
Dennis Fisher Conducting, Denton, Texas.
I. SUN in C
Before composing “Sun” I researched all the science I could concerning the sun's age, projected life span, atomic makeup, flares, and other interesting facts. Formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago and with approximately that many years left, the sun is a radioactive middle aged ball of hot plasma comprised of 73% hydrogen and 25% helium. Once the sun's hydrogen fusion core diminishes to a critical level, the sun will go from being a classified G-type star referred to as a yellow dwarf to being a Red Giant and will render Earth uninhabitable roughly 5 billion years from now.
The opening of “Sun” actively describes the dynamo process of constant motion in and on the sun. Broken motifs are stated, changed, repeated and grow with strength of numbers and dynamics for 59 quickly paced measures ending in the first sunrise witnessed by earth represented by a huge open fifth C chord which is neither major or minor as there are no 3rds. In my mind, I did not see the sun as good or evil – just existing – thus no major or minor overtones. The middle section of “Sun” depicts the sun more as a sentient being with the music showing the loneliness of floating in space for billions of years; the monotony and perhaps the unavoidable onset of insanity and depression such existence would impose on a human as a soulless planet. The sun is then musically devoured by the chemical reactions and builds back up into another huge chord, but this chord is a C Major chord, representing the joy of life that the Earth enjoys, for without the sun, life on earth would not exist. After that chord the music captures the magnificent power of the sun with huge bold chords surrounded by an arsenal of 32nd notes in the woodwinds and keyboards representing the artificial life of the sun and is meant to sound like the artificial synthesized music sounds and textures of the late 1980- 1990's electronic instruments.
The miracle of the sun ends the work with another, final massive C Major chord.
*As a side note, when I was actively composing and trying to create the feel of oppressive heat, I would always picture in my mind the desert scenes from “Lawrence of Arabia.” I always felt like that movie captured the power of the unrelenting sun and heat better than any other motion picture.
Contra Bassoon is Absolutely required and is scored for it without many cross cues.
Contra Alto in Eb OR Contrabass Clarinet in Bb is Absolutely required and is scored for it with no cross cues.
EIGHT percussionists including Timpani are absolutely required. FOUR players should be highly qualified for melodics.
PIANO is absolutely required and should be highly efficient as the part is of proffessional level.
II. Rain in Dflat
The opening of the second movement is my attempt at rain. Literally. The orchestration has the woodwinds and sparse melodic percussion playing notes randomly, both in rhythm and pitch, representing individual rain drops. Solo instruments are added to the random rain and over the course of 37 measures the entire wind ensemble is added. In measure 38, the raindrops become no longer random, but musically part of each chord in passing. The whole opening section represents a light, random rain.
The middle section of “Rain” features 2 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon and piano. It is a representation of the melancholy that comes with rain. The music then builds into a huge downpour, represented by the movement’s main theme. It is big and full, but every once in a while, one measure drops down considerably in both volume and personnel which represents the contrast between looking out at a downpour or staring at individual rain drops on the ground or in your hand.
The middle main theme winds down, dropping down in orchestration to a “twinkling” magical piano and melodic percussion section. This represents the miracle of life water gives to all living things on Earth, without which, life would not survive. This section then grows into a recap of the main theme which gradually reduces to a light, slumber-inviting drizzle ending the movement.
*The “randomness” of raindrops is written out to insure eveb distribution of the “drops” without leaving that distribution to chance by simply providing the written instruction “play randomly.”*
III. Wind in Eflat
Starting with a lone Bassoon 1 held note, Mother Nature spins a small breeze with the flutes and clarinets. The technical runs which are used throughout the entire movement have built-in motion with up and down movements, many of which happen in each small statement in each instrument. The first wind blows itself out in measure 31 with a crescendo and flourish of notes. In measure 32 the wind starts again with a more devious nature. This wind also winds down but instead of stopping completely, is lightly formed into a magical breeze, like that on a beautiful, deserted island or the winds that Peter Pan soars upon.
Measures 90 to 124 represents such a wind beginning with, again, the magic “twinkling” of melodic percussion. Jazzy woodwinds are added to the “twinkling” magic with fluid solos in the Alto Saxophone, B-flat Clarinet 1 and French Horn, representing a perfect breeze playing across bare flesh. This is the first “revisit” of a theme from a previous moment but only in orchestration here, not thematically.
Measure 125, sub-headed “Storm Brewing,” is exactly that. It starts out small, but takes on immense power which abruptly stops. A percussion feature section takes over with driving rhythms and solos. The rest of the wind ensemble is added gradually and quickly grows into a huge tornado which just as quickly disappears. At first it feels like we have escaped the full force of wind but then it hits with hurricane force music which drives relentlessly to the end. There is a recap of the main thematic material of “Sun” woven into the wind theme. The tornado is not only represented in the audio of this movement, but visually in the score as well.