Commissioned by Missouri Western State University for their centennial celebration in 2015. Premiered on October 16, 2015.
When choosing a text before writing this work, I was prompted to consider the Missouri Western State University's mission statement. Values such as courage, service, freedom, and enthusiasm suggested to me to use the famous Arthur O'Shaughnessy poem, Ode. This poem, especially lines from the first stanza, has been quoted and set to music many times in the past because of its power and inspirational value. It resonates with our innate human desire to reach forth and create something that is bigger than ourselves, to contribute to a society that is able to shape the world.
I chose to set just the first stanza of the poem and dwell on each couplet in its own distinct section of music. The first two lines are set amidst a fanfare, with ringing bells and rising calls in the horns and trumpets. The choir is declamatory in its statement of the text, with everyone singing together in a statement of unity. This shifts very suddenly into a completely different sound world for the next two lines. The instrumentation suggests waves coming ashore, while the choir sings the text in fragments and counterpoint. At first it is sparse, but it swells into a lush climax that leads into the third section. Quietly the opening lines are reprised, chanted above an ominous timpani roll. A rustling in the bassoon leads to a bright and glorious instrumental section, returning to the bells and fanfare of the opening. All too soon, this is silenced and the third couplet of the poem is chanted and then sung in rounds, rising to a dissonant climax, and finally settling into a peaceful E major cadence that leads to the final couplet. Set as a fugue to emphasize both the independence of our voices and a society that bands and works together, the work closes triumphantly.
Duration: ca. 6'
Wind Ensemble Instrumentation:
Percussion required: Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Chimes, Mark Tree, Triangle, Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-tam, Bass Drum
- SATB Choir
- 1 Piccolo, 3 Flutes, 1 Oboe, 1 Bassoon, 3 Bb Clarinets, 1 Bb Bass Clarinet
- 2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
- 3 Bb Trumpets, 4 F Horns, 3 Trombones (3rd is Bass), 1 Euphonium, 1 Tuba
- Timpani, 3 Percussion
- Piano, Double Bass