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VIEW SCORE: VISIONS & FANTASIES (SCORE–PDF)
INSTRUMENTATION: Solo Ocarina (Triple, Tenor),(2-2-2-2, 2-2-2-1, 3 perc, strings)
For nearly three years now, I have served as an arranger for the St. Louis School of Music, and have very much enjoyed creating small-ensemble arrangements of carols, folk songs, and traditional music for the school’s faculty and students to play. I’ve come to look forward to the calls I get every so often asking for my help in creating new versions of popular music from all over the world—I’ve yet to say no! Last fall, the school called me with a special proposition: A professional-level concerto, designed to canonize the ocarina as a legitimate solo instrument in a concert setting equal to any other for which concerti are traditionally written. I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity and challenge of writing such a piece.
I knew that I wanted to write a piece that would display the technical capabilities and expressive range of the ocarina, but I also wanted to show the broadest range of musical worlds and styles in which the ocarina can play well. The resulting work, then, is in five movements, each existing in a very different world than any of the others. I very often find it helpful to think in terms of narrative and imagery when I write, and as I sketched and planned the piece I began to feel that the five disparate movements were each a separate fantasy, each a new dream in which the soloist imagined being in a fantastical new environment and having extraordinary experiences. The particular vision depicted in each movement follows in the notes below.
Special thanks to Dennis Yeh of the St. Louis School of Music, who has been my colleague, copyist, proofreader, gracious patron, and performer and fan of my work, without whom this piece would never have come to be.
I. Flight—The soloist imagines herself in an ancient flying device, gliding higher and higher over the world.
II. The Machine—An enormous and dangerous machine grows out of control. The soloist tries everything to stop the breakdown, but every effort tends to backfire.
III. Prayer—The soloist enters a mystical monastery, and begins to hum a chant-like tune. Her song echoes in the cavernous space, and builds to a moment of spiritual transcendence.
IV. Romp—The soloist sits atop a great lumbering animal and leads it out on the loose. It innocently wrecks everything in its path until eventually, its pursuers catch up, and unwittingly begin an even more destructive conclusion to their chase.
V. Fiery Flourish—The soloist imagines herself a dragon-slaying hero in an ancient, fiery realm.