For Ancient Celebrations

for flute, clarinet, trumpet, 2 trombones, 2 percussionists, and string quintet

Excerpts of a performance of For Ancient Celebrations can be heard at these links:
For Ancient Celebrations (excerpt 1)
For Ancient Celebrations (excerpt 2)

This composition draws much of it's inspiration, and even some musical motives, from mixed ensemble music written by Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi. This unlikely source first presented itself while I was playing early orchestration examples for students and realized that our student chamber ensemble included a similarly odd mixture of woodwinds, brass and strings that could be used to imitate the concertato and antiphonal effects of those early Baroque innovators. Since I had recently visited the Italian cathedrals where those composers had worked, I was also inspired to capture the grandeur and solemnity of those spaces and the music that once filled them.

In spite of borrowing motives and melodic phrases, I have not imitated the style of Gabrieli or Monteverdi. This piece begins with a slow quasi-mystical introduction that is my own invention, and only after a slight quickening of tempo do any borrowed motives begin appearing. Certain of these ideas are slightly changed for my own purposes, but their origins should still be recognizable. Also, in order to help generate drama, coherence and direction, I have quoted segments of melody from a liturgical chant. Each time a segment enters, it changes the character of the music.

(performance duration ca. 8:30)

Required Percussion Instruments

Player 1
marimba (low C is preferred)
tam-tam (may be shared with player 2)

Player 2
3 tom-toms
tam-tam (may be shared with player 1)

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