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Mare Tranquillitatis
(Sea of Tranquility)


Full Orchestra
String Orchestra
Wind Ensemble
Vocal
Chamber
Solo Instrumental

I was commissioned in the summer of 2007 by Jeffrey Bishop to write a short piece for his string orchestra at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Kansas City. They premiered the string version of this work on February 12, 2008. In 2012, a consortium of wind ensembles around the United States commissioned a transcription of this work for band, and it was premiered throughout the 2012-2013 season. In 2016, I arranged this work for saxophone ensemble. In 2018, upon meeting Nomad Session, I arranged this piece for wind octet, which they premiered during in the fall of 2018. During the summer of 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I arranged this work for clarinet choir.

Mare Tranquillitatis translates to "Sea of Tranquility," and is the famous location on the moon where Apollo 11 landed and the first man set foot on the lunar surface. The music seeks to capture a dichotomy of emotions - tranquil beauty and restless isolation. All of the musical material is derived from only two ideas - the descending fourth heard in the opening bar, and the flowing and surging melody heard not long after. These two ideas trade back and forth within a contrapuntal texture, swelling and flowing as they interact with each other. The music recedes into a quieter realm and a quartet of soloists emerges, juxtaposing the lush full textures with a delicate and intimate passage. After many peaks and dips, the emotional arc of the piece culminates in the long-awaited return of the second theme. It grows and transforms into a sweeping gesture, bringing closure to the pent-up tension from before. What follows is an epilogue, and the piece ends with one final tender moment with the solo quartet.

Duration: ca. 6'30"

As of September 1, 2021, Mare Tranquillitatis has been added to the Texas UIL Prescribed Music list.

A "sequel" to Mare Tranquillitatis exists for wind ensemble and can follow it seamlessly in performance - We Choose to Go to the Moon.

Download a perusal pdf of the wind ensemble score here. Links to purchase pdfs of the wind ensemble, chamber winds, and saxophone ensemble versions of this work at the bottom of this page. The string orchestra version is available from FJH Music. Print copies of the wind instrumentations are available from Murphy Music Press.

    Wind Ensemble:
  • 1 Piccolo, 3 Flutes, 1 Oboe, 1 English Horn, 3 Clarinets in B flat, 1 Bass Clarinet in B flat, 2 Bassoons
  • 2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
  • 4 Horns in F, 3 Trumpets in Bb, 3 Trombones, 1 Euphonium, 1 Tuba
  • Timpani, 3 Percussion (Glockenspiel, Marimba, Vibraphone, Triangle, Suspended Cymbals, Tam-tam, Bass Drum)
  • Double Bass
    Chamber Winds (Mixed Octet, with some flexible parts):
  • Flute
  • Oboe/English Horn (OR Oboe with no doubling OR Soprano Saxophone OR Clarinet in Bb)
  • Clarinet in Bb (OR Alto Saxophone)
  • Bassoon (OR Baritone Saxophone)
  • Trumpet in Bb
  • Horn in F (OR Tenor Saxophone)
  • Trombone (OR Euphonium)
  • Tuba
    Saxophone Ensemble (doubling at the discretion of the ensemble director):
  • 2 Sopranos, 2 Altos, 2 Tenors, 2 Baritones, 1 Bass
  • OR
  • 2 Sopranos, 2 Altos, 2 Tenors, 2 Baritones, NO Bass
    Clarinet Choir:
  • 6 Bb clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 1 contrabass clarinet


Wind ensemble performance by the Columbus State University Wind Ensemble, Jamie Nix conducting:


String orchestra recording by students at the University of Michigan, Elim Chan conducting:


Saxophone Ensemble version performed by the Illinois State University Redbird Saxophone Ensemble, directed by Dr. Paul Nolen:


Clarinet Choir version performed by the University of North Carolina Greensboro Clarinet Choir, conducted by Joanna McCoskey:


Wind Octet version performed by Nomad Session (score following video):

The string orchestra version was commissioned by Jeffrey Bishop and the Shawnee Mission Northwest High School Orchestra

The commissioning group for the wind ensemble version includes:
University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble, H. Robert Reynolds & Sharon Lavery, conductors (consortium organizer)
The Hartt School Wind Ensemble, Glen Adsit, conductor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Carolyn Barber, conductor
Duquesne University, Robert Cameron, conductor
The Florida State University Wind Orchestra, Richard Clary, conductor
University of North Texas, Eugene Corporon, conductor
Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Conservatory Wind Symphony, Steven D. Davis, conductor
California State University Fullerton, Mitchell J. Fennell, conductor
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bands, John R. Locke and Kevin M. Geraldi, conductors
The Pennsylvania State University, Dennis Glocke, conductor
Butler University Wind Ensemble, Dr. Robert Grechesky, conductor
University of Michigan Concert Band, Rodney Dorsey, conductor
Arizona State University Herberger Institute School of Music, Gary W. Hill, conductor
Louisiana State University, Donald McKinney, conductor
Texas Tech University, Dr. Sarah McKoin, conductor
Dallas Independent School District, Rob Myers, conductor
Columbus State University Wind Ensemble, Jamie L. Nix, conductor
University of Oregon, Dr. Timothy A. Paul, conductor
Ithaca College, Stephen Peterson, conductor
The Eastman Wind Ensemble, Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor
Eastern Michigan University Wind Symphony, Mary K. Schneider, conductor
Michigan State University Bands, Kevin L. Sedatole, conductor
Miami University (OH) Wind Ensemble, Gary A. Speck, conductor
IUP Wind Ensemble, Jack Stamp, conductor
California State University, Northridge, Lawrence Stoffel, conductor
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Scott Teeple, conductor
Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Mallory Thompson, conductor
Central Michigan University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, John E. Williamson, conductor
Baylor University, J. Eric Wilson, conductor



To purchase the string orchestra version, please visit the Mare Tranquillitatis page at FJH Music. To purchase printed scores or sets of the wind ensemble, chamber winds, or saxophone ensemble versions, you may do so via Murphy Music Press. To purchase pdfs scores and sets of parts, please use the PayPal buttons below. Note the saxophone ensemble version by default includes a bass saxophone part, but there is an option without needing a bass saxophone. Contact me if you have any questions or would like to schedule a clinic.

Mare Tranquillitatis
Performing ensemble
Date(s) of performance



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