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New inspiration

by Jason McChristian on 05/09/15

Inspiration can be fickle. Typically, I finish works successfully but occasionally a work will get left behind in the dust of another. In April, I began working on a set of pieces for Narrator and Symphonic Band based on Aesop's Fables. Even as I began the Aesop Fables, I knew my impetus to complete the work wasn't incredibly strong and I suspected that the work would be shelved for later if another idea came along. I was well in to the fourth movement when I decided to tackle another project. The new inspiration came in the form of a concerto for Trombone and Symphonic Band.

 Concertos have always been incredibly inspiring for me. I have composed concertos for Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Contrabassoon, Tuba, Viola, and Multi-Perc. Other works are not technically concertos though a solo instrument is the main focus, for instance, Strange Myths and Wondrous Images, Series 1, issue 4 - A Hero's Anthem, features trombone, and Series 2, Issue 7 - The Social Outcast, features a horn.

  The dialogue between a soloist and ensemble is musically appealing. The individual-versus-many trope can be easily manifested in music and has obvious extra -musical implications that can suggest a number of programs. One could suggest many hot-button issues for a concerto program such as, the terrors of an oppressive society, bullying, or the celebration of a strong-willed individual, "Rosa Parks Boulevard" by Michael Daugherty comes to mind.  The soloist can influence the music of the ensemble, or the ensemble can influence the soloist. The soloist can fight against the ensemble while the ensemble attempts to suppress the soloist. The suppression can be of a negative nature, hopefully with the soloist prevailing (or not) or the soloist and ensemble can work together to solve a common goal. One recent violin concerto "Scheherzade.2" by John Adams is essentially about a singular woman's triumph in a world of oppression.

  The term concerto allows for an easy title if a more poetic one can't be found. A concerto can have more possibilities of performance if a good player is involved to help promote a work. Performing a concerto can allow an ensemble to invite a guest of some repute or allow a member of the ensemble to shine.

  A trombone concerto has always been dream to tackle. A few trombone concertos have stuck in mind as the pinnacles of the literature: Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto, (particularly the second movement) and Jan Sandstrom's Motorbike Concerto, (particularly the final movement). Other concertos that have influenced my general interest in concertos are Rouse's Flute Concerto and John Corigliano's Piano Concerto.

  So, for now, Aesop's Fables is shelved away until I find the inspiration to revisit it.

Details on the Trombone Concerto will be available shortly.

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