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United States Music

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Author Topic: United States Music  (Read 27025 times)
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« Reply #165 on: September 30, 2014, 11:30:07 am »

Music of James Barnes-- Part 2

Symphony # 3 ("Tragic")
My “Third Symphony” was commissioned by the United
States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. The conductor of the band at that time, Col. Alan Bonner, told me that he wanted a major work for wind band. He said that he did not care about style, length, difficulty, or anything else -- I was  given complete freedom to write whatever I wished.

I began work on it in earnest at a very difficult time in my life, right after the death of our baby daughter, Natalie, passed away.This symphony is the most emotionally draining work that I have ever composed.

If it were to be given a nickname, I believe that “Tragic” would be appropriate. The composition progresses from the deepest darkness of despair all the way to the brightness of fulfillment and joy. The third movement is a fantasia about what my world would have been like if Natalie had lived. It is a farewell to her.

The Finale represents a rebirth of spirit, a reconciliation for us all. The second theme of this movement is based on an old Lutheran children’s hymn called “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb. This hymn was sung at Natalie’s funeral.

Three days after I completed this symphony, on June 25, 1994, our son Billy Barnes was born. If the third movement is for Natalie, then the Finale is really for Billy, and our joy in being blessed with him after the tragic death of his sister

Fourth Symphony: Yellowstone Portraits
Portraying the beauty of nature with music is certainly not a new idea. Vivaldi‘s cycle of violin concertos entitled The Seasons, Beethoven‘s Pastorale Symphony, Smetana‘s tone poem The Moldau, and Respighi‘s The Pines of Rome are but a few outstanding examples of this procedure. Composed in the spring and summer of  1999, James Barnes‘Fourth Symphony (Yellowstone Portraits)is a new contribution to the longstanding symphonic tradition of program music. Commissioned by the Kansas City Youth Symphony... the band version was completed in the spring and summer of 2001.

The initial moments of the first movement, Dawn on the Yellowstone River , invoke the sound of river water and th  awakening of birds. It is intended to portray the stillness and calm of nature in the early morning; from the first scant, shadowy rays of daybreak to the moment when the sun rises above the crest of the mountains and glistens in all its glory upon the waters of the magnificent Yellowstone River.

The second movement, Pronghorn Scherzo, describes the humorous and chaotic scrambling of an alerted herd of pronghorns. The first sounds in this movement signify the alert,when all the pronghorns raise their head to what they perceive to be the sound or appearance of danger. The composer has marked this movement Lickety Split, and that is exactly what the animals begin to do, running helter skelter in all directions, seemingly at the speed of light. This general panic progresses to a great climax, when the herd finally follows its leader over the top of a hill. However, one confused and inexperienced baby antelope remains in sight. He soon realizes that he should follow his mother over the hill. With the blink of an eye, he is gone, and so is the second movement.

The composer describes the third movement,Inspiration Point (Tower Falls), as outdoor music; music to take one‘s breath away. Inspiration Point begins with a tremendous fanfare by the trumpets that leads to the initial statement of the main theme by the unison horns, a melody that was first heard in the opening movement of Fourth Symphony. The music is intended to portray the awesome beauty of the greatest waterfall in Yellowstone Park, and its fascinating natural setting at the end of a great canyon. After moments of contemplation and admiration, the music begins to build to a gigantic climax, evoking the immense power and timelessness of nature which is so evident when viewing this seemingly endless journey of water.

(Personal Note:  Althought the very last few measures sound a bit a like a band piece to my uneducated ears, the last few minutes of the third movement do have some of the most majestic moments I've ever heard, and I've had to listen to this over and over many times.)

Scenes from the Aztecs
These notes are not by the composer, but from a Descripton from Murray State.Info
Concluding the concert will be the American permiere of a work by University of Kansas composer, James Barnes entitled, “Escenas de los Aztecas” or “Scenes of the Aztecs”. The work was written as a “test piece” for the 44th World Music Contest which is held in Kerkrade, The Netherlands once every four years. “At this prestigious contest, entering bands are assigned a grade level and then every band in that grade level must perform a certain test piece,” stated Johnson. “I was extremely fortunate to be invited to be on the jury for the contest this past July (which runs for three weeks) and heard this work during the contest. Normally, upon hearing a work that many times, you become almost immune to it but this work captured my attention each time I heard it. At times it is mysterious, then gentle, quietly eerie, and at the end – downright scary – as musical depictions of the sacrificial rituals become ever so prominent. Undoubtedly one of the most complex and emotional works I have ever conducted.”
Personal Note:  It's not suprising that this work has echoes of Reveultas, but I also hear "My Favorite Things" in it.  Go figure.

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All download links I have posted are for works, that, to  my knowledge, have never been commercially released in digital form.  Should you find I've been in error, please notify myself or an Administrator.  Please IM me if I've made any errors that require attention, as I may not read replies.

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