AMBITIONS (...AT 25)
Op. 23 (2019) for wind BAND

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     AMBITIONS (...at 25) was commissioned by the Spring Valley Concert Band for the 25th anniversary of the creation of the band. While I was writing the piece, I realized that I will also be turning 25 quite soon after the piece would be performed, so I molded it into a representation of a process that I share with the ensemble. That process is a continual drive to improve our crafts (composing and performing), though almost completely behind closed doors. Eventually, and for a short time, we share our results with wider audiences in singular concert settings, showcasing an art form that exists largely not in space, but through time. Though that seems awfully philosophical to think about, the reality of many musicians' lives is that same dedication to prepare something so diligently so that the goal becomes not simply good, but hopefully excellent and engaging for our audiences.

     I reflected this process within AMBITIONS through the continuous manipulation of two main themes. Nearly every bit of musical material is a permutation of the themes or is a rhythmic motive used pervasively throughout the piece. The first theme is introduced by the clarinets and continually leans forward, adding momentum to the process. The brass then take over the theme in the first of many instances in AMBITIONS where ideas are passed between instrument families and colors. The lilting second theme, played by a solo oboe, is dramatically different from the first, and represents the more lyrical and emotional aspects of music. Throughout the rest of the piece, ideas are shared, transformed, and given new meaning. Eventually, in a short pause, the tuba section restates the introductory passage and confirms that yes, in fact, everything is turning out okay, and the piece builds up to a rousing conclusion as the craft (performance) is finally and joyously shared with the world.   

 

Special thanks to Sean Sroka and David Gear, Conductors, and Paula Waterman, Band President, for creating an excellent commissioning experience for a young composer!

AMBITIONS (...at 25) was premiered October 20, 2019, at the Larson Prairie Center for the Arts.

—BJH

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