Works for Winds and Percussion

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afterlight for winds and percussion (2013) - 6'

Commissioned by the Duncanville High School Wind Ensemble
Jeffrey King, Director of Bands
Level: Medium


Premiere: 
Duncanville High School Wind Ensemble
Jeffrey King, Conductor
February 7, 2013
Alexander Auditorium - Duncanville, Texas

Reference Recording:

Duncanville High School Wind Ensemble
Jeffrey King, Conductor


Program Notes:

When I was asked to write a piece in memory of Michael Rowden, it created a sense of conflict in my own mind. I never met Rowden, so I didn't have much of a perspective from which to draw inspiration for a new piece. Instead, I had to rely on my colleagues with whom Rowden spent a significant portion of his career. As his friends and colleagues recanted his personality and numerous anecdotes, I realized that my own inspiration drew from the legacy that was being shared with me. Despite never having interacted directly with Rowden, I was motivated to recognize the lasting impression he left on the teachers and students with whom he worked.

An "afterlight" refers most directly to the light visible in the sky after a sunset. However, a less common use is that of a retrospect and a view of past events. With this in mind, I wanted this piece to be a reflection on a person that meant so much to so many students and colleagues. As a young educator, it is inspiring and encouraging to witness firsthand the impact on these many lives after years of dedication to selflessly serving his students.

Jeff King, Director of Bands for Duncanville ISD, and a long-time colleague of Rowden, writes, "I remember Mike as a quiet guy who always seemed to have time to listen to people. He was a very intelligent man who was not shy about sharing his love for movie sound track music with anyone who was interested. If you just happened to have a billiards pool stick with you, that would be just fine with Mike. Many of us never know what our true purpose in life is until we are gone. I believe that when you hear this beautiful music written by William Pitts, Mike will be smiling in heaven saying, 'that was very nice students, make sure you…' Mike touched many lives throughout his teaching career with his kind demeanor and wisdom. My hope is that this music will live forever in our hearts and through his spirit."

afterlight is not a chronicle of Rowden's life, but rather is intended to draw upon a lasting positive legacy reflected in the memories of those that knew him well. The piece uses a three-note motif, first heard in the vibraphone, to create the sense of suspension and a lack of resolution, thereby creating a greater sense of arrival at measure thirty-five and again at the final climax at eighty-six. Other than these moments, the tonic F-major is used sparingly. Rhythmically, the triple and duple-based percussion material often contrasts with the slow-moving material of the winds, again supporting the sense of suspension while still maintaining steady rhythmic drive.

The oboe, Rowden's primary instrument, is used as the first melodic wind instrument throughout the entire first large segment of the piece. After the first arrival to the tonic F-major, the brass traverse through multiple key centers, eventually leading to the extended development back in C-major. Hints of the principal melodic material appear in the woodwinds, again creating a contrast from the driving rhythm of the percussion to the slow-moving rhythms in the winds. Eventually, this development culminates in the final grand arrival of F-major. The piece fades into a final statement similar to that of the introduction, again featuring the oboe as a primary voice.

Though I never had the pleasure of knowing Michael Rowden, it is an honor to have an opportunity to pay tribute to the inspiration he has been for students and colleagues throughout Texas.